A common struggle of Veterans is returning home to their civilian life that they had before joining the military.  I don’t know about every Veteran’s case, but I do know that in my basic training and my first, second, and third platoons they all said the same thing, “Going home, you’ll see your friends are all doing the same things as they were when you left.”  And you know, it is true.  That saying, “You can never go home,” while true in the civilian world as well, it is even more true in the military world.

The constant struggle for a Veteran, even a Reservist/National Guard Veteran, is that in basic training you are taught to do and act things out that aren’t natural for a civilian.  They are taught to act on impulse; neigh, they are #TRAINED to act on impulse.  Basic training teaches how to react to a gun fight, how to return fire, aim a weapon, disassemble a rifle/handgun, and it teaches you to keep calm in a highly stressful environment.  Basic training also teaches something a lot of civilians do not have: RESPECT.  Basic training teaches and holds to a high standard core values:  LEADERSHIP, LOTALTY, DUTY, SELFLESS-SERVICE, HONOR, INTEGRITY, PERSONAL COURAGE, COMMITMENT, RESPONSIBILITY, HONESTY, ACCOUNTABILITY, JUSTICE, SELF-RESPECT, HUMILITY, and so much more.  There is a reason why these men and women are considered HEROES in so many different cultures.

After basic training, which in most cases is nine weeks, they go on to more specialized training; which teaches them more of the aforementioned paragraph while teaching advanced techniques in a combat relation.  Some jobs, are I admit, nothing more than a paperwork career, but many more are combat intensive.  Take the UNITED STATES ARMY’s infantry for instance.  The infantry is a sole combat position.  When not in combat, they are training for combat.  Basic training for the common infantryman is nineteen (19) weeks of pure hell.  Learning how to kill, or be killed.  Learning how to survive against all odds.  Being able to adequately perform medical treatments on an ailing buddy or even foe, to save their life.  Being an infantryman gives one many invaluable skills, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to a healthy civilian life afterwards.  The military teaches their members how to survive, follow instructions to the T, and to not ask questions.  These are not bad qualities, and in most cases many people would consider these to be great qualities in an employee.  However, the greatest asset to a future employee is also, and can be, their greatest disappointment.

There is much expected out of Veterans from a Civilian perspective.  All the positive things mentioned that a military member learns, civilians know this as a rule of thumb.  They know that when they hire a Veteran they are getting an asset, but where the military #FAILS is teaching Veteran’s how to cope with being out of the military.  That it is okay to be themselves, it is okay to brag a little about their capabilities of what they can do, and be humble enough to say that they can’t do something.  It is also okay to take initiative in the real world, but they don’t teach that.  They teach, “Do as you’re told.”  They send our Veterans out in the world, not afraid, but #UNPREPARED!  The military does a great thing by turning our youth in to adults / law abiding citizens, but they do them a disservice by not letting them know what it is like in civilian life.  The military sends these men and women out with a DD214 and a pipe dream.   They don’t teach these Veterans how to utilize the VA benefits such as GI Bill, or the next step to getting a job.  They tell them, “Oh you are highly employable, here is a sample resume, use it and make sure your military service is on there – you’ll be hired.”  #WRONG!!! Our Veteran’s deserve better.

What our civilian employers are thinking though is that every Veteran can think outside of the box.  Whereas, this is true in NCO’s, most junior ranks in the military are not taught to think outside of the box, but to do as they are told.  This is a very difficult habit to break, and many employers who expect the “think on the go” and “outside the box” are sadly unimpressed because the military has failed our Veteran’s in allowing them to know it is okay to think outside of the box, and that a civilian employer is going to tell them what they need step-by-step.  Civilian employers want to be able to task the job out and expect that it will get done, and if the project needs tweaked to do it, as long as the job gets done and right.

Being a Veteran is hard, and at times it can be downright frustrating.  Not because a Veteran feels unappreciated, but because they served their country instead of going to college and thought that they were going to get skills that paid the bills.  Firsthand knowledge can  tell you that people that serve in a combat related profession in the military are going to have to really think outside of the box to put their skills in to usable knowledge because putting “Trained in urban combat” and/or “Trained to kill” is not a really desirable civilian trait!

There is #HOPE though!  There are groups out there that willing to help such as Operation: Job Ready Vets, The Wounded Warrior Project, and so many more!  Your best bet as a Veteran is to get connected with your local Vet Rep and get in contact with them.

Also, if you are a Veteran, and you are having an issue and you need to talk about it, and you have no one to talk to – please contact us here at FreedomSystem.  We will allow you to bend our ear, and try to help you out!


Kenny Holmes
CEO / President at FreedomSystem.org
My name is Kenneth Holmes (Kenny, please!). I have two degrees from Indiana University - an Associates in Criminal Justice and a Bachelors in General Studies (concentrations Political Science, English, and Electronic Media). I am medically retired from the United States Army after 12 years of serving our great and wonderful country: United States of America. I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, and a productive member of society!

My full time job is working with veterans and making their lives more manageable. I own my own photography company, Holmes Photography, and I build websites and do other side computer related work - graphics and the whatnot!

If you would like to know more about me you can email me at kenny@kennyleeholmes.com or kenny@freedomsystem.org