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Your Civilian Life and Psychological Health: Episode 032 - Transcript

Air Date: March 8, 2013


Learn how to cope with relocating, returning to the civilian workforce and other new experiences that can impact psychological health.



This is Real Warriors—Real Advice.

Returning home from deployment can be an exciting time, but it can also bring challenges. Getting reacquainted with friends, loved ones or co-workers, for instance, as well as adjusting to new family dynamics and routines that developed while you were deployed can take time. Deployments can affect everyone around a warrior, and everyone needs to adapt the best they can to being apart. When you return, be patient and allow yourself and the people around you to adjust gradually to being back together.

For National Guard and reserve members, returning from deployment may also involve reintegrating with a civilian employer. Just like with your family, understand that people and activities at work will have changed while you were deployed, and you will need to be open and ready to adapt to the changing environment. An employer may want you to "jump right back in" where you left off, or you may be placing pressure on yourself to do so, but try instead to ease into your return to work. Ask your supervisor for a briefing on the current work environment before your first day back so that you can better understand how your responsibilities were handled during your absence and what changes in personnel, policies and projects have taken place. When you return to work, avoid stepping right in and "taking charge." Focus instead on being patient and supportive of decisions that were made while you were gone, and anticipate and accept the changes in the workplace.

Talking about your upcoming return to work with others in your unit, particularly other reservists going through the same process, lets you know that you are not alone in what you are facing, helps relieve stress about the transition and gives you an opportunity to share coping skills. If your employer offers confidential services like an employee assistance program, also known as an EAP, take advantage of it. Such programs often provide excellent resources for making the transition back to work—as well as home and family—a healthy one.

Your EAP may also be able to help with psychological health concerns you may be facing as a result of your deployment. The Make the Connection website and the Psychological Health Resource Center are other valuable resources for information about reintegration, maintaining resilience throughout your transition and how to access available tools and resources to address psychological health concerns. You can reach the Psychological Health Resource Center toll-free at 866-966-1020. Your local VA also has support services. It was a VA hospital that first helped Staff Sgt. Meg Krause, an Army reservist who served in Iraq as a combat medic, when she began experiencing symptoms of combat stress—including nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping and excessive drinking in an attempt to cope. Krause was diagnosed with PTSD and began receiving psychological health care, all with the support of her unit, chain of command and civilian counterparts. Today, as a result of reaching out for care and support for psychological health concerns, Krause has been able to maintain a successful civilian career.


My future looks amazing. I am a consultant. I work on veterans reintegration issues for the Departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and I do outreach to veterans who are struggling with the same issues that I've gone through and, basically, work on helping them through some of the same problems I had as far as education, employment, homelessness, those types of things. I've been really lucky that I've been able to turn what could have been a disaster into an amazing, amazing career.


For warriors who are receiving care or treatment for psychological health concerns and also facing an upcoming change in status, relocation or return to civilian life, the inTransition coaching and support program offers assistance as they move between health care systems or providers. This support helps warriors effectively navigate changes throughout their transition and maintain mission readiness. The Real Warriors Campaign website has additional information about the inTransition program and resources about navigating various life changes, including the article, "For Employees: Reintegrating into Civilian Employment." Along with this article, you can find out more about psychological health concerns and how you or someone you know can get needed support by accessing information and resources 24/7 at realwarriors.net or by calling 866-966-1020. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide or experiencing a psychological health crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1.

In an earlier podcast, we asked listeners to offer their advice about what warriors can do to cope more effectively when returning to the civilian workforce. Tips included: Seek jobs that are military friendly, in your field if possible. Focus on doing a great job as you always have. Apply the leadership skills you've learned. Use all of the resources available to you and ask for help, when needed.

Looking ahead to future podcasts, we want to hear from you, our listeners. Every month we will feature tips from Real Warriors Campaign podcast subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. So, sound off. How can warriors and family members help children understand and cope with deployments and reintegration? Post your thoughts under Episode 32 at realwarriors.net/podcasts. You can also find and subscribe to Real Warriors podcasts on iTunes.

This is Real Warriors—Real Advice.

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