I was sitting in at a discussion on military resources recently, when someone asked for the reason why the risk of suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent higher than the civilian women. The discussion continued, but my first thought was, I’m a female combat veteran why don’t you ask me? I went through the transition process. And right behind that was the thought in my head that said suck it up and drive on – you got nothing to complain about.
But here’s the thing. When we leave the military, we all suffer the disconnect of not belonging, the feeling of isolation, and the inkling that people are not really seeing us for what we are. We tend to keep to ourselves because the everyday conversations that go on around us raise our hackles; they seem so inconsequential compared to what we have gone through. Women are born nurturers and when called to action with the necessity to keep emotions at bay, it makes returning to the civilian life disorienting. The swing of two emotional extremes; the emotional dump or the lack of emotion creates a doubt on our confidence to react properly in the civilian world. Adjustment takes time and sometimes, time is the enemy.
To get a more succinct explanation, read It’s Time to Address the Staggering Rate of Suicide Among Servicewomen and Female Vets by Kate Hendricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter.
We have to acknowledge that each of us has a different response to the things we have experienced during our service in the military. Knowledge and understanding go a long way towards bridging the gap with our transition to our best life.