On Veterans Day, Advice for Veterans From Veterans

Monday, November 11, 2013

An honor guard presents the colors during a ceremony for Veterans Day at the Vietnam War Memorial on November 11, 2011, in Washington, DC. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty)

Veterans face a myriad of challenges when they return from service: Accessing medical care, finding employment, coping with a changed home life, and a number of other issues. No one better understands these barriers—and how to overcome them—than veterans themselves.

For this Veterans Day, The Takeaway has collaborated with the Center for Investigative Reporting to collect advice from veterans, for veterans, and by veterans. Many have advised those who have recently returned to reach out early for psychological help.

"Do not be afraid to visit the infirmary and get problems documented, including psychological issues," Fern Lee writes. "If that history exists in service and then occurs in civilian life, it makes it easier to have established a service connection. Those who have service connected issues still go to the VA and file your claims. Do not give up."

Similarly, on Facebook, Shelly writes, "We are organized, and have built a solid community that will be present for generations to come...find this community, talk to them, work with them... Many soldiers will suffer from PTSD, just as many EMT workers, police officers, and rape survivors do."

"You are not alone, and it is a completely normal reaction to having endured and seen what most humans never endure and never see," Shelly continued. "Your experiences in combat are an evolution...it changes you, and that is a good thing. Our nation must always possess those who have seen evil. Give yourself time to readjust, it usually takes a year to even start to feel normal."

Today The Takeaway continues this conversation with two veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—Jason Wasieleski, a former Army medic who served in Afghanistan in 2012, and David Retske, a former UAV pilot who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. Together they share their advice for returning veterans and discuss what they wish they had known when they returned from service.


David Retske and Jason Wasieleski

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [4]

BubbaZ from Hill Country, Texas

Vietnam Brown Water Navy Vet. Here's my advice: Find a way to deal with the bitterness resulting from of all the things you have lost; time with family, advancement in your career, education, vacations you didn't take, etc. The biggest regret is how to communicate what you've been through. The bottom line is most people don't want to know.

In my case I learned to deal with my situation by going back to college and studying the very subjects that troubled me. I took classes in current affairs, history, psychology, sociology, etc. It worked for me, but each individual has to find their own path.

Nov. 11 2013 12:53 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I know Veterans who have gotten street vendor licenses to sell merchandise on the street. Many Vets are happy and can make a few hundred dollars a day. They sell hats,or comic books and DVD's. At least in New York that street vendor license is cherished.

Nov. 11 2013 11:41 AM
A Listener in NYC from NYC

I'm not a vet (though I have deep connections to several), but am a civilian who has recovered from PTSD. I can definitely attest to the issue with the intrusive questions of others, and the way that you can end up spilling your experiences to others. PTSD takes over your mind so those thoughts are always right by the surface. Unfortunately some folks just seem to have to violate your at the moment very weak boundaries. It's not easy to navigate and requires a lot of courage to face.

Nov. 11 2013 10:38 AM
Jim Polichak from Patchogue, Long Island

Fellow Vets & Friends or Vets,

Long Island Vets need your Help!
Please visit http://veterans-for-veterans.org/ or http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/veterans-for-veterans-start-up-fund/x/1149434.

Jim Polichak
Veterans for Veterans

Nov. 11 2013 09:58 AM

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