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Do you want to know what to expect returning to work?

Going back to a previous employer may sound easier than becoming a new employee in a new work place. However, just as family expects the same loved one to return home, the employer may expect the employee to return to work and work in the same manner as before. These expectations likely are not realistic.

It is the returning veteran’s responsibility to inform and prepare the employer for any current disabilities (mental or physical) that could change the level of participation in previous work assignments. Getting an agreement at the time of re-entry to the job prevents undue disappointments on the part of both employee and employer. By doing this you will enlist the aid and understanding of the employer and fellow employees to support you should PTSD symptoms occur.

Do you want to know about how your attitude towards your work has changed?

There are some REAL challenges to returning to work in the civilian world. The normal military discipline will not be there. The priorities of the work place are also quite different. The attitudes and lifestyles of those sharing the work place will also be very different from those you experienced in the deployed area. Going from LIFE and DEATH issues to a 9-5 repetitive process may be the most difficult part of returning to work.

Needing the adrenaline rush to feel useful can become a huge block to accepting that this “old” world stateside is what you were fighting for. The things you were fighting for are generally taken for granted in day-to-day life in the US. Personal freedom to go where you want, when you want, and speak with whomever you want are so accepted that people don’t think to appreciate it stateside. Finding a support group is very useful in making the transition back into the workforce.  See RESOURCES. 

Do you want to know about your fellow employees' attitudes/reactions?

The reactions of fellow employees mimic the patterns of reconnecting and reconciling as is experienced in families. If the military person is open about the changes in personality, expectations, disabilities, etc. and requests feedback, support and assistance, the fellow employees are more open to responding with positive support. AND if the military person then listens to their responses and helps create agreements about responsible and fair behaviors, a respectful and productive work atmosphere will prevail. Some fellow workers might feel uncomfortable, guilty, resentful—who knows what is triggering them? Once again, conversations about feelings make magic happen.

Do you want to know about finding work?

There are many organizations dedicated to veterans finding work, here are a few:    

More are found under Resources.

Do you want to know more about your purpose in working?

Perhaps the job you had before you left was quite fulfilling but with the life-changing deployment experience it no longer feels like a mission you would like to fulfill.  Please see CREATING A NEW LIFE. It is natural to have different reactions and ambitions.

Do you want to know about retraining, returning to school?

If you are entering  the civilian workforce for the first time and know what type of work interests you but you lack the skills or training to do the job,  funding for training/schooling is available.:

The government has extended the GI Bill to veterans of OIF and OEF.  Please call 800-827-1000 for more information in applying for this aid.

There are online college courses, technical courses, and other training courses that can be completed at home. Go to Google and select the school or subject you are most interested in.

If you are interested in a job that provides apprenticeships seek out a trusted counselor to discuss how to apply for this type of job.
If you are interested in the work you did in the military and believe you can apply the skills in a civilian way, please contact: or

If you want to use your skills as a civilian in the military, please contact: Veterans Administration Vocational Rehab or

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