Eight months after leaving active duty, I still hadn’t started a salaried job. I was working two internships and a number of side jobs, but I after sending out dozens of resumes, I hadn’t yet found an honest-to-goodness full-time position. I had left the Army as a captain, making very decent money once you factored in BAH. That was in Texas, where not only is the cost of living is extremely low, there’s no state income tax. Now, living in New York City, where rent, food, transportation, and taxes are near the highest in the U.S., I was making minimum wage. The internships were always meant to be stepping stones — a brief interlude in my career transition — to a decent-paying job in my chosen industry.
While post-traumatic stress disorder has become a much-discussed affliction, a seemingly more prevalent problem is going largely overlooked: transition stress. Think of it as a clinical-sounding diagnosis for that sense of alienation many veterans feel after they leave the military.
It’s official: The holidays are here. This week, families will gather to share in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas, along with the hustle and bustle of decorations, gifts, and holiday parties.
If you’ve served in the military you understand stress intimately. The amount of shit you put up with in the service varies, or takes different forms depending on what your job is, who you work for, or what branch you’re in. But, the key thing is that military service comes with stress, especially for those of us who enlist.