From the Outside Looking in: Life as told by War Veterans

Serving in the military during combat, is an experience that can distort ones social functioning. War veterans often face a new set of challenges after serving their time and experience trouble reintegrating back into society. These challenges may include but are not limited to, living with PTSD, sleep problems, alcohol and/or drug problems, depression, anxiety, anger problems, coping with military sexual trauma/harassment, and/or relational problems (trouble maintaining relations with intimate partners, family, & friends). War veterans are also susceptible to larger social issues such as homelessness. Enough with words, what better way to further understand the world of a veteran then to see a visual depiction of some of their daily struggles.

War Veterans are often susceptible to (PTSD) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which occurs after one has been through a traumatic event such as combat exposure, sexual or physical assault, terrorist attacks, and/or serious accidents. One of the symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, having bad memories or nightmares and or feeling as if you’re reliving the event (What is PTSD, pp. 2-4).

 A Veterans reality may be disrupted, such that they feel hyper-arousal, tense, and or jittery. They may always be alert and on the lookout for danger (What is PTSD p. 2). For example, Connie shared a story about one of her clients who purchased gas masks for his whole family and would avoid going out unless his whole family was with him.

 Some soldiers may avoid situations that remind them of the event. They may avoid talking about or thinking about the event, as reflected in one of the statements made by the solider in the in class video we watched, “your forced to put your feelings in a box, and never open it up again”.

Homelessness is another issue that veterans often experience. Followed by homelessness, is substance abuse, employment problems, feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair and depression or anxiety. In Rosenberg’s role as a veterans outreach social worker, he notes the kinds of living accommodations veterans create for themselves. Veterans set up their own camping ground, consisting of those similarity situated. Many camp residents came to believe that they would be able to squat on city property indefinitely, they came to consider it their home. They had their own shacks, beds, & stoves. They have long since given up on the idea that they will ever hold regular full-time jobs or reside in apartments. As a rule they have been homeless longer than any other subgroup and have settled into the lifestyle that they believe is their lot (Grobman p. 341). 

Relationships are often difficult to maintain, as veterans may seek to over-protect their loved ones due to the fear of their lives being in danger. Fear of possible loss may prevent veterans from pursing new friendships and from engaging in social activities. 

 While war veterans may experience a wide array of challenges, they are still capable of leading successful lives as there are many ways in which military social workers provide adequate interventions and assist veterans in reintegrating back into society. Military social workers may provide veterans with direct services such as family violence/martial/couples counseling, alcohol and/or drug abuse counseling, helping them cope with depression and anxiety, stress, bereavement counseling, and military sexual trauma/harassment counseling. Social workers have also provided indirect services focusing on issues such as policy development, screening of recruits, and advocating for and developing services for military personnel and their families (Daley, p. 438). 


 Daley, J. (2003). Military Social Work: A Multi-Country Comparison. International

       Social Work Int Soc Work, 46(4), 437-448. doi:10.1177/0020872803464002

Grobman, L. (2012). Days in the Lives of Social Workers (4th ed.). Harrisburg: White

       Hat Communications.

Morel, O., Mael, & Gauvin, E. (2015). Haunted. In Walking wounded: Uncut stories

        from Iraq (pp. 8-62). New York, NY: NBM Publishing.

U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (2015). What is PTSD. Retrieved from

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