Boredom and Loneliness Haunt Veterans

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Doug Bolton, the founder of the blog, Signs of Hope, which is at www.dailysignsofhope.com, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics.  

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This is a new social network just for veterans. I joined it and made instant friendships with veterans who want to talk about what I want to talk about. Please check it out. You will be glad you did. 

https://www.rallypoint.com/join/spc-douglas-bolton

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One of the hardest problems veterans face is what happens after transition. This article may help you survive. 

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Veterans face a variety of problems once they leave the service. Whether it’s accurate or not, many veterans feel life is a little harder for them than for most people. But what if a big part of the problem wasn’t so much PTSD or poor transition assistance — at least not directly — but rather loneliness and boredom?

From being under a microscope to being unseen

The best and worst thing about being in the military is that it is all-consuming. It provides you with a place to be and a time to be there, pretty much 24/7/365.

You spend several months at a time deployed. When you get home, you work long hours, so that takes care of a good part of your day. Then you’ve got frost calls at the club on Fridays after work. Another weekend that month you have duty. The next there’s a mandatory fun event of some kind. Your next door neighbors are military too, so they invite you over for dinner every so often.

For better or worse, while you’re in the military, you’re always busy and rarely alone.

In the civilian world, after you walk out the glass doors, no one cares what you do. Outside of blatant misconduct that might discredit your employer, they generally don’t care much about how you live your life. They sure aren’t going to have you sit in an auditorium for eight hours on a workday to talk about why you should wear more sunscreen.

Shot gunning into civilian life is lonely in the best of times

Once you have that DD-214 in hand, your social network changes. Chances are you’ll get a job in a whole new city. Once you’re there, you’re no longer in that protective military cocoon. Your neighbors come and go silently to wherever it is they go. On one side, you have a college student whose parents pay his rent and who apparently commutes by skateboard. On the other, who the hell knows, because you’ve never seen anyone enter or leave — just vague signs of occupancy. You think there might be a serial killer with a torture dungeon living there.

It’s definitely not like the barracks, or even a typical neighborhood street in a military town.

If you do stay around your old duty station, your military friends will still have the demanding schedule you just left — plus you’re probably a sellout contractor, with the logoed polo shirt to prove it. Even if you decide to go back to your old hometown, you aren’t the same person as when you left. Unless you’re picking up that dead-end job right where you left off, you no longer fit in there, either.

Your new coworkers generally scatter to the winds after work. Unlike your previous semi-homogeneous band of mostly young male brothers, now you have a diverse group with lives as different as their backgrounds.

If you’re single or divorced, it’s even worse. You can’t party with the Friday night crowd unless you want to be the sad old guy in the club. If you don’t have children or they don’t usually live with you, you probably aren’t plugged into the whole kids soccer scene (and it would be a little disturbing if you were). Most of your peers are married, so if you aren’t, you probably aren’t going to be hanging out much. No one likes a third wheel. As far as meeting other middle-aged single folks, that guy who spotted you on the bench press at the gym was really cool, but it seemed weird to ask him to hang out after staring up at his crotch for 10 reps.

Falling into a cycle of self-isolation

When you get home you usually have nothing to do. At first, that fills you with sublime joy, but after awhile, having nothing and no one to fill the off-time becomes old. Some people handle that better than others.

Unfortunately, charming old-fashioned solitary pursuits such as painting, solitaire, and playing soulful jazz piano at dirty gin joints are far less common pursuits than things like excessive drinking and internet use. Both of those things are addictive, but they do temporarily relieve boredom and loneliness.

In the case of drinking, without anyone else to watch what you’re doing, that couple of beers after coming home from work easily becomes 3 or 4, maybe even 5 or 6. You aren’t trying to get shitfaced. You’re just hanging out, watching Netflix or playing video games, while sipping a beer. But sipping beers for several hours quickly adds up, even if you’re not trying. Vets have much greater rates of alcohol abuse than the general public.

Then there’s the internet, that great time-suck. It’s the refuge of the lonely, offering instant connections with people around the world. But that virtual companionship can destabilize your remaining relationships in real life.

For vets in particular, there’s a temptation to rekindle camaraderie on any number of vicious and misogynistic social media pages. An online life devoted to mocking civilians and treating women poorly is even more isolating — after shitting on every non-vet, and even vets who don’t live up to your standard (oh good, another POG hatefest), are you really going to go out, be friendly, and find new friends in real life?

Though I’ve wasted too many hours on social media, I’ve never thrown in with the vitriolic Facebook groups. But I see enough reposts of those groups from many of my old colleagues to know that it’s clearly a thing.

As far as alcohol, I’ve had more than my share of beers in a sitting enough times to know that I need to keep an eye on that, if for no other reason than my waistline. Along those lines, there are many other unhealthy time-killers, like overeatingsmoking, and dipping that vets are especially prone to.

Admit you’re lonely. But you’re not alone

The plural of anecdote isn’t data. But it’s indisputable that loneliness and boredom have profound effects on health and wellbeing. I can’t help but wonder if a large portion of the acute mental illness and substance abuse problems among vets might really be just the long-term products of poor social networks after leaving the military.

Some of the military’s and VA’s organizational efforts would be well spent in finding earlier interventions on that front, instead of waiting until vets’ lives go completely sideways.

And on the individual level, it’s just another good reminder to take care of each other. Taking an interest in each other’s lives isn’t a cure-all for our issues, but it does help remind us: We’re not as alone as we think.

If you are struggling with life after the military. You are never alone. We have your six. Get help. Here is a toll free number you can always go to to get help:

1-800-273-8255

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all….never, ever, give up!

Too Many Veterans Are Committing Suicide.

Thanks to all of you who have been joining me here. We help bring change to lives. The response has been wonderful.  We just past 3,9792 new subscribers. That was a huge increase in 2016. We only had 1,000 two years ago. In 2017 help us to make it to 4,000.

We are only 8 away of reaching our goal.  We will be giving a prize to the person who is our 4,000th person to subscribe. Somebody will win in the next few days. 

Help us make it to 4,000 by subscribing today if you haven’t already. This shows you care for veterans. Just click on the icon right after the title of this post and click on FEEDBLITZ , and the posts will come straight to your inbox.                            ____________________________________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of the blog, Signs of Hope, which is at www.dailysignsofhope.com, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics.  

______________________________________________________________

This is a new social network just for veterans. I joined it and made instant friendships with veterans who want to talk about what I want to talk about. Please check it out. You will be glad you did. 

https://www.rallypoint.com/join/spc-douglas-bolton

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We have just added a fantastic product for people who are suffering from PTSD. I have looked at the video myself. It is a little long, but it is very valuable. Go to   https://sites.google.com/site/v4vweaponspackage/  to see for yourself. It will change your life if you suffer from PTSD. 

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It has been far too long since I last posted here. My apologizes, and I hope I will be posting on a regular basis from now on. Today I am speaking about suicide. A tough subject, but needs to be addressed.

I had a wonderful Veteran’s Day. I was asked to be a speaker that a Veterans Day event in Sherwood, Oregon.

There were two other speakers ahead of me. They were excellent, and I began to worry if my talk would be good enough. They asked me to share some of my military experiences, and share about a non profit I am a board member for called, Victory for Veterans Foundation.

I started out telling stories about my basic training, and deployment, plus my after deployment time. The audience was laughing at some of my stories and I felt much more comfortable. All of my military stories are actually also written in a book called, Signs of Hope for the Military: In an Out of the Trenches of Life. (Keep coming back to find when it will be published.)

I moved on to talking about the Victory for Veterans Foundation, and the audience was dead silent. I knew they would be, because I talked about suicide. They were also told a bunch of statistics and they were saddened. Here are some of the statistics I shared:

  • 22 Veterans commit suicide to end their own lives daily.
  • Many veterans are struggling with PTSD, TBI, depression, etc.
  • There are far too many homeless veterans in our nation.
  • Many are on assistance for food. (My brother-in-law is in charge of taking meals out to needy people, and he told me that out of 100 meals he delivers in a week, 75 of them are military families.)
  • A good number are unemployed, because their training doesn’t fit many jobs in the private sector.

There is more, but I am sure you get the picture.

Victory for Veterans Foundation, reaches out to these heroes and give them the help they need. We need to reach out and help these warriors to stop them from suicide.

Go to http://www.victoryforveterans.org to find how you can help out.

If you are a veteran stand strong and be proud of how you served your country. Stand strong against all the dark side fears.

Here is a helpline that runs 24/7

1-800-273-8255

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…

Never, ever, give up!

More Military Veteran Interviews

Thanks to all of you who have been joining us here. The response has been wonderful.  We just past 3,300 new subscribers. That is a huge increase in 2015. We only had 1,000 a year ago. Help us to make it to 4,000.  Could you be the one that puts us over the top? Our goal for the end of this year is 6,000.

Help us continue to grow by subscribing today if you haven’t already. Just click on the icon right after the title of this post to do that.

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Doug Bolton, the founder of the blog, Signs of Hope, which is at www.dailysignsofhope.com, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Doug sent off his mini proposal to an agent who is very interested in his concept. We will update you when we hear more. 

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On my last post below I started sharing a few of the interviews I am doing for my new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.”

This book is reaching out to all the veterans who may be suffering after or even during their time in the military. It covers PTSD, deployment, loneliness, depression, domestic violence, spouses left behind, etc. It even has some humor of when I was in the military.

Today I am going to share a couple more interviews. In the last post I said that I would only be sharing a little part of each interview. I will continue that here. To see the entire interviews you will need to get the book. (This is called a hook in the writing community.)

One interview I had was with a Vietnam veteran. It wasn’t planned interview. I happened to be at a fast food restaurant and saw him sitting alone staring out the window. I could tell he was a veteran by his Vietnam hat he had on.

He finally got up and I saw that he had a cane. He hobbled over to the trash bin and then started to leave.

I asked him if he would sit with me for a while. He hesitated until I told him I was a veteran as well. Here is the conversation we had. It really wasn’t an interview. I didn’t want it to sound that way.

Me- “What unit were you in?” Veteran-“I was on a ship off the coast of Vietnam, and we had a helicopter unit that went in to rescue soldiers, bring in supplies, and did humanitarian help for some of the starving people.” Me- “What was the worst moment you had in the military?” Veteran- “I saw my best friend and the rest of his crew take off in a helicopter and suddenly crash into the ocean. They never recovered the bodies because it was too deep.”

There was much more talked about, but this was the most heart breaking part.

Another interview I had was with a Vietnam medic. He had some horror stories which I won’t share here but will be in the book. Here are some highlights:

Me- “Was being a medic a tough job?” Veteran- “Of course it was. To see young men with their legs gone, or near their last breath was extremely hard.”  Me- “Did you have some special moments?” Veteran- “Yes, I was caring for a soldier who couldn’t have been much over eighteen. He asked me if I was scared. I said yes. That seemed to calm him down a lot knowing that someone felt the same way as he did, but was still trying to help him anyway.”

I will have many more interviews in the book, and the book will be full of hope, and showing veterans ways to cope in the world we have to live in after we hit the private sector.

A word to all veterans…

You are a special person. You went out of your way to serve you country. God loves as you are, warts and all. You are a hero to not only me, but many other people. Never be ashamed of what you did. Never feel your time was wasted. Never allow others to degrade you for what you have done for your country.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!