Local veterans discuss difficulties transitioning to civilian life

Many of us have family members or know someone who has served or is serving in the military. The Army wanted to hear from service members about their time in the armed forces, so they tweeted this question: “How has service impacted you?” Instead of an overwhelmingly positive response, vets discussed issues with PTSD, sexual assault and suicide.

Many have seen first hand how difficult the transition for veterans back to civilian life can be. But there are places that vets can go to get help.

One of those places is at the Veterans of Foreign Wars office.

“I love the organization. I just wish more people would understand it, and try to understand it,” said Sandy Judge, a Navy veteran.

The VFW, tucked away on Mission Avenue, is a center for those who have served in our armed forces.

“We got Marines, we got Air Force, we got Army, Navy, Coast Guard, we all work together,” said CD Seegars, an Air Force veteran.

Members say the VFW feels just like a family.

“I think it’s a great home that I can come and tell stories, I can come and hear stories,” said Dave Lord, a Navy veteran.

Lord served in the Navy for 23 years. He ended his service in 2005, but still today feels like he’s transitioning back into civilian life.

“I do still feel that I’m in the transition phase and there’s a lot that I do that really goes back to those days,” Lord said.

Lord says he regularly seeks help and speaks with professionals. But many vets say they have seen friends struggle as they come back home.

“They start drinking a lot, talking about suicide and stuff like that. But, mainly they get into alcohol. And that’s what we try to get them out of,” Seegars said.

They say the minute those dark thoughts come, seek help. They say it may feel isolating returning to civilian life, but you’re not alone.

“Immediately get hold of somebody. Call somebody. If you’ve got that feeling, go to the veteran’s hospital, go to a veteran’s post, go to a veteran’s club. Find a veteran. Anywhere,” Lord said.

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