What is readjustment?
Readjustment is the process of transition from military service back to civilian life, of understanding what is expected in civilian life and how that differs from the military experience. It is a time in which a veteran is adapting or changing that which was learned in military service to the conditions and environments of civilian life. This is a stressful time. Currently, America is at war. Being at war compounds the stress of readjustment.
Whether deployed to a war zone or operating in support of a war zone, the following stress related reactions are commonly experienced by veterans as they return to school, employment, friends and family.
Common readjustment stress reactions in a time of war
Angry, short-tempered, irritable
Agitated, edgy, anxious
Excessive drinking, smoking or drug use
Aggressive driving habits
Hyper-vigilant, overly concerned with safety
The task at hand feels pointless and without worth
Guilt or shame associated with the death of friends and/or having friends currently deployed to a war zone.
Feeling isolated, alone or misunderstood, withdrawn from friends and family
What can I do?
Reconnect with your social supports: spend time with your partner, kids, other family members and friends. This is critical to readjustment.
Get back to a regular pattern of sleep and exercise
Drink responsibly or not at all
Drive defensively, not offensively
Balance staying connected with your military buddies and reconnecting with your social supports
Realize that you need to talk about your experiences. Speak with family, friends and other veterans. In some instances talking to a spiritual leader or counselor may be helpful.
Irritability and anger: quite literally, walk away from the situation. If driving, pull over or exit the freeway. Use relaxation techniques. Get plenty of rest as being tired or sleep deprived will reduce your ability to manage irritability and anger.
Use UW Bothell resources to adjust to the university environment and enhance study skills:
Quantitative Skills Center
Student Success Services
Student Mental Health Counseling Services
Attend a UW Bothell Student-Veterans Association (SVA) meeting
It is important to remember that readjustment is an experience, not a diagnosis or a mental health condition. Common mental health problems that veterans may experience include post-traumatic stress (PTSD), mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), depression, and alcohol and drug abuse. In addition these problems may be associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help and call: Suicide Prevention at 800.273.8255.
For information on these health problems and other concerns:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Military Sexual Trauma
To learn more, visit any of the sources listed above and below. Pamphlets are available in the Student Services area UW1-173.
“Returning from the War Zone a Guide for Military Personnel.” VA National Center for PTSD, June 2009.
“Returning Veterans.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.