Renaissance Ranch

The Unique Challenges of Veterans in Recovery

Jun 12, 2024

Veterans of the armed forces face a myriad of challenges when transitioning from active duty back to civilian life. More specifically, substance use disorder (SUD), mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more are common for veterans during this time, further complicating the transition and healing process. Meanwhile, by addressing the unique challenges of veterans in recovery, loved ones can encourage veterans to participate in the professional treatment programs they need to establish and sustain lasting wellness in civilian life.

At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize that veterans are especially vulnerable to substance abuse and other maladaptive coping strategies as a result of untreated trauma and lacking quality social support. Fortunately, we specialize in treating those who have served our country by providing them with a safe and supportive healing environment and the highest level of care possible. Our individualized approach to treatment, coupled with our Band of Brothers alumni network, can help pave the path toward lasting success in sobriety and recovery for veterans working to integrate back into their civilian lives. 

Addressing the Unique Challenges Veterans Face

The brave men and women who devote their lives to protecting and serving our country experience intense life changes when transitioning to active duty. When living on base, enlisted personnel are required to participate in various military operations, from combat training operations to relief support and more. These duties become a part of daily life during deployment. In addition, active service personnel are also expected to prioritize specific values when living and serving on base. Values including loyalty, respect, selfless service, honor, and more all serve as the foundation for army culture and military life. 

Further, compared to civilian life, military life is especially demanding. Members of the armed forces are expected to follow rigid schedules, submit to all commands, examine their own tone of voice, and present themselves in a way that honors the military code of conduct. Both obedience and subordinance play significant roles in the performance and personal well-being of each service member. 

While these expectations are especially important in keeping service members safe and protected, there is no question that they can cause much distress for those who have completed their deployment and plan to transition back to civilian life. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights, “Studies indicate that 44 percent to 72 percent [of veterans] experience high levels of stress during transition from military to civilian life.” Family members, friends, and other loved ones of veterans can aid and support this transition by preparing for the challenges that they may face as they return home. 

Specific Challenges Veterans Face When Transitioning Home From Active Duty

Individuals who are removed from military culture may undoubtedly be able to recognize some of the challenges that can interfere with a veteran’s transition home from active duty. For instance, loved ones can assume that any veteran returning home may juggle feelings of guilt, shame, and sadness from the situations and experiences they were exposed to while deployed. Additionally, it can also be assumed that veterans may struggle to relate to civilian life and the lives of their loved ones, even if they were only deployed for a short amount of time. 

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) highlights some specific challenges that veterans often face when returning to civilian life. Understanding these challenges can help loved ones better prepare for a veteran’s return back home by creating an environment of support and understanding. These challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Reconnecting with family: Families often create new roles and routines in response to a loved one’s absence. Veteran loved ones may struggle to reconnect with family members and establish a purposeful role when returning home.
  • Creating structure: Military culture provides rigid schedules and structure to daily life in a way that does not naturally exist outside of the military. Thus, veterans may struggle to create their own structure and adjust to the ambiguity of civilian life.
  • Coping with stress through substance abuse: It is not uncommon for veterans to cope with stress and other difficult emotions with substance use and abuse while deployed. Thus, veterans returning home may struggle to healthily cope with stress, turning to alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate. 
  • Joining a community: During military life or moving to a new base, active service members are provided with resources to help them and their families adjust. However, when transitioning to civilian life, veterans are often expected to seek out their own resources and locate a sense of community for social support. 

Loved ones may feel a great deal of pressure to provide a safe environment for their veteran loved one to return home to. While learning more about these unique challenges that veterans in recovery may face can be extremely valuable, connecting them with a recovery center can be even more worthwhile. 

Recovery Services for Veterans in Recovery

At Renaissance Ranch, we are no strangers to the unique challenges that veterans in recovery often experience when returning home from active duty. This knowledge and understanding play a critical role in our ability to provide lasting healing and support to those in our veteran-focused recovery programs. Meanwhile, we recognize that healing from the trauma that occurred during active duty requires specialized care tailored to each veteran’s unique needs and goals for recovery. At the ranch, we customize our client care to ensure that each client has the resources and tools that they need to thrive in recovery, especially when transitioning back to civilian life. 

Veterans, you do not have to go about this transition alone. Allow us and our Band of Brothers to provide you with the camaraderie and guidance that you may need to finally experience lasting healing and recovery in your life. 

Veterans of the armed forces may face a plethora of unique challenges when returning home to civilian life. For instance, service personnel adopt military values and expectations that influence the structure and purpose of their daily lives. Meanwhile, when they return home, they may be faced with clashing familial expectations and struggle with the ambiguity of civilian life. Fortunately, loved ones can aid in a less stressful transition by understanding what their veteran loved one experienced during active duty and providing unconditional support. Furthermore, at Renaissance Ranch, we specialize in veteran treatment by providing comprehensive, individualized care that caters to the unique needs of veterans. Learn more about our programs by calling (801) 308-8898 today.