I've been thinking lately about our nation's military veterans.
Maybe that's because we are in the midst of long series of stories about the local men who served in Vietnam. I wrote one of those, on Art Heyderman, a Bettendorf resident who served as an officer in the U.S. Army.
I also think of my brother, who was in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam, and is part of at least 7-8 generations of Coxes who have served in the U.S. military.
I think of the flag that will fly in front of my house in rural Scott County, on Nov. 11, Veteran's Day. (We are part of a neighborhood flags program which supports youth baseball.)
Those are some of the reasons why I share the information, below. The tips came originally from a publicity firm for a veterans' retreat in Colorado.
Research conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 27 percent of veterans reported finding it difficult to transition back into civilian life, but that number rises to 40 percent when the veterans who are polled served in the last 10 years.
Here are some tips for helping veterans to transition to civilian life:
• Pay attention to the veteran’s behavior to see how well they are adjusting. If there are problems and stress, identify those issues and seek out help for them. Speak with your family doctor or a mental health therapist for advice on the best route to helping.
• Give the veteran some space and time to adjust. Making the transition isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, so being patient and supportive is going to be the most effective route.
• Suggest treatment programs that can help. (These exist all over the U.S., locally some are centered at the Rock Island Arsenal.) Being exposed to a variety of therapeutic tools can help during the transition so they have ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Join or build a community. There is help in having good social support. Seek out other veteran groups or families that can be social together. Some of these groups already exist in communities, but if they don’t then don’t shy away from starting one.
• Encourage healthy living habits, such as eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and doing things to help reduce stress.
• Try to have a plan with some goals, so the veteran work toward meeting them. They can include goals regarding engaging in therapy, obtaining a new job, etc.