Upon returning from my second Vietnam tour, I lived in a small apartment in New Orleans near my new civilian job. Team mates also recently returned would stop by and share my digs for a few weeks/months as they were also trying to start their civilian lives. We’d party and talk about what we had been part of. This went on for about 18 months.
None of us realized it, but we were “decompressing” each other, making a soft landing back in “the world’.
After many years as a Christian minister/counselor it began to occur to me that the best counselor is the one with the same experiences rather than the loftiest college degree.
Civilians, even close loved ones often don’t get it. We run into a shallow self interest that is more directed to their comfort than our adjustments. Sometimes when I hear “Thank you for your service”, I wonder if the person has any idea about ‘service’. Without going too far into this rabbit hole, I’d encourage veterans to seek their fellows, hang with them, walk around inside each other’s head.
Know that we’re not ‘victims’ but fulfilled men and women that truly get President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena”.
To close, I’ll say that coming to Christ (1970) by the testimony of my wife and fellow SEALs was no small part of my ‘decompression’. When His life became ‘infused’ to my life, everything began to heal.