Finding My Identity As A Veteran of the US Military
As a Veteran of the US Military, I have struggled to identify with my status as someone who has served their country. After completing my contract, I experienced a lot of confusion about my place in society and what my military service really meant. For many years, I felt disconnected from the veteran community and unable to relate to my fellow service members. However, over time, I began to find my identity as a veteran and understand what my service meant.
The first step in my journey towards identifying as a veteran was coming to terms with my own feelings about my military experience. In the immediate aftermath of my service, I struggled with guilt and uncertainty about my deployment. As I began to reflect on my time in the military, I realized that even if I didn't understand all of the objectives of my deployment, I had still made sacrifices and served my country to the best of my ability. Recognizing this was the first key to accepting and embracing my status as a veteran.
One of the biggest hurdles in my journey was accepting that it was okay to have mixed feelings about my time in the military.
As a society, we can sometimes put military service members on a pedestal and expect them to be 100% gung-ho patriotic all the time. However, the reality is that the military is a complex institution, and there are many valid opinions about its role in society. It took me a long time to realize that it was okay to have mixed feelings and doubts about my military experience, but that didn't make me any less of a veteran.
A key step in my journey towards identifying as a veteran was finding ways to use my military experience to benefit others. Reaching out to organizations that help other veterans or participating in community service projects, I was able to find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in my veteran status.
Creating a dialogue with other veterans especially ones that served in previous conflicts has built my pride the most.
This interaction allowed me to redefine my military experience as something that could be used for good, rather than something that just existed in the past.
Finding my identity as a Veteran of the US Military has been a long and difficult journey, but it has been incredibly rewarding. Coming to terms with my own feelings about my military experience, connecting with other veterans, accepting my mixed feelings, and finding ways to use my military experience for good, I am now able to proudly identify as a veteran.
If you are struggling with your own identity as a veteran, know that you are not alone and there are resources and communities available to help you find your place. With time and effort, it is possible to find meaning and purpose in the aftermath of military service.