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How Do You Help Service Members Transition from the Military to the Civilian Lifestyle?

How Do You Help Service Members Transition from the Military to the Civilian Lifestyle?


How do you help service members transition from the military to the civilian lifestyle?

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[Dr. Kristen Maisano] One of the hardest things, in my opinion, for a service member transitioning from the military to civilian lifestyle is that the decisions a service member has had to make over their career are life and death decisions many times, and in the civilian world, we really don't make many life and death choices. So I've seen many service members get upset, or service members' wives. An example would be, "My husband will never tell me what he wants to eat for lunch or for dinner." In the grand scheme of things, that doesn't matter to him anymore. What matters to him is he had to survive for a year—he had to survive for 15 months— and those choices don't mean anything to him anymore. Picking a restaurant doesn't mean anything. And that's hard when we go into the civilian world because those choices— if I had to decide where I needed to go to lunch today, it would be a big choice for me. But for a service member who has just transitioned from the military and has multiple deployments and has seen some of the worst things about humanity, those things don't matter. And that is something that we work on because we just need to look at it from the civilian point of view and make sure that we educate the service member about everybody's experience is relative and not all war is the same. So you could have somebody who sat on a FOB, and their war experience is just as valid in their mind as a Special Forces guy who is deployed 12 times. So we need educate about being conscious of other people's experience and other people's thoughts.

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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Kristen Maisano, OTDKristen Maisano, OTD is an occupational therapist and the interim director of Rehabilitation Services for the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. She specializes in evaluating and treating military patients with traumatic brain injuries.

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