There is an inherent loneliness that accompanies a soldier when he or she transitions to civilian life.
When you’re in the military, your life is micro-managed to the point where you have no question as to what you will do tomorrow. You wake up, you train, you eat, you train, you eat, then your day is done, and tomorrow you will do it all again. Your 24 hours a day, 365 days a year are planned and accounted for. It’s actually quite comforting.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;” – William Shakespeare
Then of course there’s the companionship that comes with being a soldier, a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood shared among those you serve with. An understanding among individuals from all walks of life that we are all here for the same purpose, having a common core belief that there is a greater purpose to be served and, if one or all of us need to lay our lives down for that belief, that is the commitment that is made.
“For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;” – William Shakespeare
During your personal time you don’t go out and make new friends because all the friends you will ever need are the ones you train with every day. Who better to crack a cold one, and share your woes from the day, with than the people you share these experiences with. When you’re a soldier, you’re never really alone.
Then, your time is done. You’ve done your bid for king and country. Now it’s time to make your own decisions, guide your own life. Initially, probably the first six months for me, you have as much (legal) fun as you can find. You grow your hair out. You eat what you want. And most important, you don’t get up before the sun to go on a 5-mile run or 9-mile hike.
But, after a while, you get bored. You get lonely. You realize that you don’t know what to do with all of your free time, time that was once managed for you. All of a sudden, all of the people you share all of these life-changing experiences with are not around. Your loneliness affects your social life, making it difficult to make friends.
Next year will mark my 20th year since my time in service. It has been a long, lonely road, even when surrounded by loved ones.
Just felt like sharing.