Well, we all know that during the past 10+ years now, the USA has been openly at war. Often, when not openly so, there have been a small portion of the populace who have been involved in some type of ‘legal warfare in the service of the community [law enforcement agents] or the nation [military forces]’ over and above another small portion who have been engaged in illegal warfare [gangs, vigilantes, other].
On some level we all deal with this every day. Many have argued that video games and violent TV shows have desenstized people to these matters. Others may be more like me, and amongst everyone they know…really just a few are military or law enforcement veterans who have contended with extremely difficult life threatening situations or have been a serious danger and threat to other human beings – directly, rather than indirectly.
Personally, I believe that there is a place for ‘the warrior’ in society but that one needs to really take care and think through what makes the use of force actually necessary. They say that the greatest way for evil to triumph is when the good do not take action. For everyone who has struggled and won but not without enduring substantial suffering, it is well known that ‘that doesn’t make it easy’.
I believe it important to help the re-civilianization of our military veterans and to understand that regardless of whether they performed nonviolent or violent service, they have had intense experience.
The good news is that I personally believe that cheerful, fun, and good feeling experiences are as powerful or even more so than unpleasant experiences despite arguments to the contrary. The best approach is generally to see that it may take people some time to readjust and like all of us, the veterans are living forward not backward in time. There may be times when any of us seems ‘stuck’ or frozen in time by overwhelming events. Even so, little by little daily living can produce helpful changes.
The main thing is most likely to just not expect people to be the way they used to be. Keep in mind that we see this as true and good when it is sex, or birth of a first child or marriage or college education or if someone becomes a dancer or loses weight…and it is also true for people who have had difficult and unpleasant experiences whether from war, or domestic losses or serious illnesses. Many are aware that wars leave certain types of ‘marks’ on people…If we are patient and compassionate and respectful of our veterans that should ease the transition – it won’t always make it a cinch for them, but it will at least help us all with one factor we can often control: attitude.