Photo courtesy of Team Rubicon

Five years ago today, the world lost a very special man. While some people may have heard Clay’s name in the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention For American Veterans Act that was signed by President Obama last year, or through the Clay Hunt Fellowship Program put on by Team Rubicon to develop leadership skills for transitioning service members, many people probably don’t know his full story. So, who was Clay Hunt and how has his life had such a special impact on the veteran community?

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U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff

The transition out of the military seems to come in a few important stages. Getting started and being willing to truly do what it takes to begin a recovery is probably the most difficult. After that, taking responsibility, building healthy relationships, finding a supportive community, and staying active are all important self-choices. In the next stage, getting involved and giving back are essential to setting goals and providing a sense of purpose. Finally, seeking professional development, employment, and education will improve confidence and set a stage for continued growth.

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Photo by Sgt. Alisa J. Helin

Whether you recently separated from the military or have been discharged for several years, you will likely face some challenges acclimating back into your community. These challenges may include readjustment, regaining a sense of purpose, charting a path for your new life, and acquiring the skills and education you need to stay on that path. Here are six brief tips that may prove invaluable as you make a successful transition into the next phase of your life.

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Photo courtesy of Dave Smith

Editor’s Note: Excerpts of this article originally appeared at David Smith’s personal blog post, “Staring Down the Barrel of a Shotgun.”

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AP Photo/US Marine Corps, Cpl Dick Kotecki

A decade ago today this week, on Aug. 26, 2004, Pfc. Nicholas Skinner was killed in Najaf, Iraq, while fighting off the Mahdi militia in a final push to surround the Imam Ali mosque. Skinner was a rifleman in Alpha Company “Raiders”, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, the primary ground-fighting unit during the battle.

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Photo by GySgt Robert K. Blankenship

On August 25, 2004, a decade ago today, Lance Cpl. Alex Arredondo was killed in action in Najaf, Iraq, while checking on his Marines’ defensive positions during the final push in the Battle of An Najaf. Arredondo was a team leader in 1st Platoon, Alpha Company “Raiders”, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. His platoon had recently been fighting from a four-story hotel room during our final push into the old city to surround Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia in the Imam Ali mosque, following days of fighting through streets and buildings to secure their current position. The fighting of that month was some of the fiercest and bloodiest in the entire war.

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