T Nation

A Tough Time Being a Civilian


alright ill keep this brief. ive been browsing these forums for a while now ever since i got linked to this site from another one. im not a lifter at all never have been but i like the misc and sex forums. anyway i have decided to make a post because i need some advice and im not willing at least yet to talk to someone about these issues in real life b/c i really dont have anyone i know that could help me. maybe someone out there can give me the real deal.

well basically i got out of the big green machine about 4 months ago. they were a good 4 years overall but after my third deploymant i just got burned out. plus i was tired of being deval dogged constantly and putting up with all the mickey mouse bullshit (any grunt out there will know what im talking about). i couldnt wait to get out and get a breath of freedom.

so now im living by myself and working for UPS. but the problem is is that for the past couple months i have realized that i am seriously fucked up. at first i just thought that i was getting back into the swing of things and that it would just take time to adjust but now i know that somethings up. now heres the problem, i really cant explain what im feeling.

i guess i would say it best by saying that i feel angry and sad at the same time but i dont know why. i cant relate to anybody. its like theres this big time gap between me and everyone else. people at lunch always pissing and moaning about this or that when they have no reason to complain. i have seen little girls like 5 years old having to walk thru shit infested gutters to get home.

THERES a reason to complain motherfuckers i feel like saying but i cant i can only smile and say ya. i guess i would seam like i have my shit together but inside i want to scream and about what i dont know. i debated long and hard about admiting this but sence its the internet i mine as well. yes i cry. i cry at night like its a fucking routine and no matter how hard i try i cant stop it.

i try to look for reasons why i am crying but i cant find any. thats what pisses me off the most. this crying routine really gets me down about myself. i just dont want to be around anyone. usually i just go home after work and smoke a bowl and chill out in my room and just think. i was really good friends with my room mate in high school but now i barely talk to him and i dont want to.

the kicker to all this is a party that some of my coworkers envited me to the other nite. thjis is what made me finally get the balls to post. it was a pretty cool party there were a lot of girls an in the past this would have got me excited but when i was there i couldnt give a fuck.

someones girlfriend was talking to me and said something like; hey i heard you were in the marines. i was like yeah. she asked if i was in iraq. i said yeah. and then heres the kicker. she said; oh that must have been exciting. when she said this i felt a throbbing pain behind my eyes and i almost wanted to cry. this REALLY pissed me off b/c i was at a party.

we talked a little bit longer and she said wow your really quiet you need to be more exciting. at this point i left and i on my drive home i swear to god i was crying so hard that i couldnt breath.

anyway sorry for the long post. i just dont know what to do or where to go because at the rate im going i dont know where ill end up.

so if anyone out there has a similiar expierence or has some advice for me i would really apreciate it. thanks.


You should contact your local V.A. and seek help.

You will likely find some people on these boards who can relate to your experience, but you should have person to person contact with others who can help.


I can relate to you, man...

You feel like you don't fit into the world anymore? Like you don't give a fuck about those petty little things people talk about every day and are all burned out, emotionally and psychologically. Nothing's exciting, you can't connect to the world and people in it the way you used to.

You've probably seen and done a lot of things while you were in Iraq. I haven't been in a war zone before or experienced battle, but I can imagine that it has changed you in some major way. Maybe you're holding in a lot of rage and sadness about what happened over there, and what you've seen.

You don't feel like a 'normal' person anymore, and you don't know if you even want to be one, right?

Let me know if I'm on the mark here, maybe we can help each other out...


Give it time. Takes 6 mos to a year to disengage. Talk to other vets. They are the only ones who know what you are going thru.

Best advice I can give you is go and talk with some old timers. WW2 and Korean vets especially. If you think you had it rough, you'd be suprised at what others went through and got past. Seriously let it sink in.

Time heals everything. Enjoy the things you love. You did something difficult. Don't let somebody tell you it's OK to feel lousy and make it the focus of your life. Don't let people tell you it's OK to lash out and rage and not to supress your feelings. It's not OK to do any of things. You need to control those things and move on now.

Good luck. If it's any consolation your not the first and your not the only one who came back with the stare. You'll lose it one day. Trust me on that.


This is why you need to find someone to talk to and fast. You cannot do this yourself.

What you are going through is extremely common for people returning from war regions. Even reporters go through it. You cannot deal with this yourself. Nor can those clueless people at that party be of any help. They are going to make you feel worse, because they unwittingly magnify the "difference" that you feel from them. They might even be callous enough to tell you to "get over it."

So find a professional to talk to. Get into the gym. Stay the fuck away from alcohol or drugs. Try to be patient with civilians. You might also consider writing in a journal about your experiences - in story form, diary, poems, whatever. Get it down so you can "objectify" it somewhat.

You're alive. Your world is here and now. One day at a time. Peace & be well.


If it makes you feel any better my Grandfather was a tail gunner in a B52 bomber and survived all of his manditory missions (only a 37% chance of this happening back in WWII) and went up on one extra mission to test out the radio equipment. Well the pilot saw that they had some bombs with them so he decided to make a bombing run dispite my Grandfathers protests as he was going home the next day.

Well on that bombing run they got hit by AAA and had to crash land. As a tailgunner you were pretty much shit out of luck during a crash landing...now he has 2 metal knees and a plastic shoulder. Life can suck ass at times, but it worked out for the best. He ended up marrying the nurse taking care of him in the hospital.

Haha aside from my possibly useless story you could try and get a job as a military contractor. That way you stay in contact with people you can relate too.

Just make sure you get some personal contact with people, I've had to deal with people that have worked out in the field alone for too long and let me tell you it's not pretty. I've known a few who have been reduced to talking in incoherent code 24/7.


Here maybe this will help.

I have quite a number of friends who are Vietnam Vets. I have been privilaged to know some information that there families don't know and I'll never tell. Why we're called friends. Friends are to find and even harder to find one to trust.You, already know of individuals that have been in your situation. Make friends. The VFW, and whatnot are good places to muster.

Here is a real good way to get rid of that stress or the emotional release. Try working out. It won't be as hard as you have had it, or it can be even harder. The choice is yours.

Learn to hunt. All my friends were first bow hunters. Trust me, being a bow hunter is a great thing. The sernity of the woods, is truly a spirtual event and everyone needs me time to recharge our senses.

Give it time. More importantly, educate them instead of wanting to kick there asses. It could've been worse you could have been in the Navy.


Find a therapist, and get some help. Theres no shame in that, re-adjusting to civilian life can be rough. Also, give some thought to where you want your life to go, careerwise.

It seem that you are drifting a bit and THAT can really make life miserable


Welcome back bro. What you are going through is normal, but it sucks. Talking it out helps, but therapists suck too. The VA mostly sucks, and the quality of help you can get is mostly hit or miss. Check with them and see if they have an Iraqi vets group that meets every once in a while, you can at least talk to people who have been there and done that.

Sometimes listening to other people bitch about Iraq sucks. Talking to civilians sucks, they don't get it and usally get pretty uncomfortable when you start to talk to them about the war. The bottom line is to find some constructive way of letting go of the bullshit, the guys who don't figure that out are the tragic stories you hear about in the news.

Don't isolate yourself, it doesn't really help. Neither does booze or drugs over the long run. Fresh cope is always there and always satisfies.

If you want to PM me where you live, I can try to tap some of my former Marines who might know some ways to make things better around where you live. We take care of each other, even after you are out.
Stay strong bro.


I feel the same way, but what happened to me wasn't nearly as bad. By far the best advice here is talk to other vets, go hunt, STAY AWAY FROM DRUGS AND BOOZE.


What's been said so far is true, it's a natural part of rejoining the world.

I wish I had some sage advice for you about how it would all go away and life would be great again soon but I don't. For everyone that comes back the road is different. There are times when my wife still has to hold me when the nightmares come.

I can't recommend talking about it in detail with someone who hasn't been in your boots. Even the most well-meaning person in your life will be hard-pressed to understand and empathize. Not knowing where you've been or what you've seen, they have nothing to use as a frame of reference.

As has been said before, there is no shame in your tears. I agree that the VA can be hit or miss but this is like everything else in the military, it's best learned from those who went before you.

I wish you the best of luck on your road.


Sorry to hear what you're going through. Like BH6 said, it's normal. My dad's a disabled Vietnam Vet, in some ways he was luckier than most of his fellow Vets because those 18 months in Walter Reed gave him some time to decompress, talk things out with other guys who had been through it.

Like someone else said, the VA is kind of hit or miss, try to find other Veterans to talk to. Stay away from alcohol and drugs. God bless you and good luck.


I also kind of know what you mean when you talk about people complaining about nothing. My father knows most of the Vets in our home town, and when I was a kid he had a real close friend named Warren who was a Marine in WWII. Nicest guy ever, like an uncle to us. He died of lung cancer when I was eight or nine.

When I got older my dad told me some of the stories Warren had told him about Peleliu and Iwo Jima. He was a front line Marine, carried a .30 cal machine gun, lived through some awful shit. It has always been hard to reconcil the stories with the relaxed, easy going guy I knew.

You hear somebody crying because they had to wait in line 2 minutes at the bank, or their garbage bag rips open and they have to pick up a little trash and you think "people have lived through worse than this."


you hit the nail on the head but WAY better than i could say it. its right on

i never expected to receive such great advice. i want you all to know that i read thru every single one. i never could have thought of half the stuff that was brought up. im definitly going to give some of the stuff talked about a shot.


I'm not putting this in a PM in the event there are other guys like the OP not speaking up.

Hey brother,
Man, I remember about 2 years ago I posted something a hell of a lot like you did. I was an 0352 sergeant out of K-bay. I got out after my 4 and went to college late in '03. That first year was hell. I almost got kicked out of the dorms for telling and RA to fuck himself for giving me a hard time while I was drinking a beer watching the push on the History channel. I had a really hard time. I didn't know what the problem was either. I was just alienated. I had all these pussies crying about missing home or how their fat assed girlfriend dumped them.

So a year later I joined a reserve unit that I knew was going to Iraq. I figured it would be a good way to get back into it. Lo and behold, I found out that reserve artillerymen are pussies compared to active grunts. First they gave me a NAM for making the best squad in the battery and teaching these pogues to be grunts then I got a charged for hazing and lost my squad over some lame bullshit. I got home and I spent 6 months in a funk. I played World of Warcraft and drank beer all day long. I spent all the money I saved in Iraq while I was depressed and unemployed. My wife almost left me.

Well, it does get better...kind of. I still miss the Corps. I find that for some reason I still don't fit in with people because all I have are Marine Corps stories. I also learned that most people don't want to hear about how many buy me drinkie girls you've had sex with. I also know that there's no one to talk to that knows how shitty it feels to have killed someone. All my papers that I write somehow end up being Marine Corps stories.

It's not that you don't have a seperate personality; it's that a good Marine finds that his personality and that of the mystique of the Corps don't really conflict. As I've explained before, Marines are like abused wives. The Corps treats us like shit, but we still love it.

I figured joining the VFW would help. It didn't really, but they just started the VMW, The veterans of modern warfare. It's essentially the VFW for us not salty WW2 and "nam vets. Look it up man. I'd like to give you better advice on how to deal with it but I can't. I just decided to go back in as an officer instead after I graduate. If I decide not to, I'll probably be a fucking head case for life.

At least think about going to college and using that GI Bill. As much as people piss me off, when you adapt, you'll find that college is a shitload of fun. Between my GI Bill and Pell grants I'm getting paid to go to school. Think about it man. Just keep in mind that you really aren't alone. Even if you aren't diagnosed PTSD, the corps sticks with you. We all deal with this to some degree, even the pogues. You know us Marines are a family too. Link up with us. We'll always have your back.