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Supporting US Military Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Life: Exploring a New Model


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Abstract/ Summary

Serving in the Armed Forces is a unique experience where strong bonds can form between peers as they experience the culture shock of military life. After discharge from the Armed Forces, US veterans are found to be overrepresented in the prison system, the homeless population, and even in suicide – much of which is related to readjusting to civilian life (Elnitsky, et al, 2017). Further research suggests these outcomes are related to separation from peers (Castro & Truusa, 2019). In an attempt to identify the reasons for this disconnect between veterans and existing veteran-help-based services, an online survey was posted to various social media boards. A sample of 59 veterans participated and 61% reported a difficult transition to civilian life, while 40% who visited community-based outpatient clinics to seek help indicated it was unhelpful. Thousands of programs have been created to help veterans, however, the annual numbers of those succumbing to trouble with transitioning remain steady or have increased. The multitude of data and research available suggests that a new approach that addresses the concerns of these Veterans should be considered. This proposed new model that includes a veteran-staffed organization with proactive peer support was favorably received by 68% of those surveyed, while 81% stated that they would volunteer for such an organization. The beneficial peer support cultivated in the services would allow our veterans to employ the skills they already possess to assist veterans in the home community potentially reducing rates of incarceration, homelessness, and suicide attempts.



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