Veterans Who Do This Are 50% More Likely to Reintegrate with Ease
2-½ minutes to read
What do you think would make your transition to civilian life easier? A lot of veterans think a college degree is a key ingredient. But the best factor has five times the impact of a college degree.
The Biggest Factors
The Pew Research Center did a study. It examined the impact of 18 demographic and attitudinal factors on veteran reintegration. Six of them predict a more difficult time adjusting. They include having suffered emotional trauma or a physical injury, serving in combat or post 9/11, and knowing someone killed or injured. All present profound challenges. But you can’t erase them. Your path to a successful civilian life must travel the road of reconciliation.
The only variable negative factor is your marital status. Being married during your service reduces the chances of an easy transition by 15%. It would seem getting divorced improves your reintegration prospects. Looking deeper, the negative correlation arises from a buildup of conflict that comes to a head when leaving the military.
But don’t call a lawyer. Marriage leads to better health and higher overall satisfaction with life. Transitioning won’t improve an already strained marriage. But without constant deployments and TDYs/TADs, you have the time to repair your relationship.
Eight factors don’t impact ease of transition. They include:
- Age at time of separation
- How long the veteran was in the military
- How many times the veteran deployed
- Whether the veteran had children younger than 18 while serving
Three of the four positive factors had small impacts:
- Officer – 10%
- Understood your missions – 10%
- College graduate – 5%
Hence, having a degree has a marginal impact on your transition.
So what factor has five times the impact of a college degree? Religiosity. For post 9/11 veterans, 67% have an easy transition if they attend worship services at least once a week. For veterans who steer clear of religion, only 43% do. The 24% difference is five times that of a college degree. Note that Pew defines religion by action – attending services.
What’s behind this issue?
The Benefits of Religiosity
Studies have long shown that religious belief correlates with positive outcomes. These include better physical and emotional health and happier and more satisfying personal relationships. But most veterans think a successful transition means getting a good job. What does religion have to do with that?
Let’s peel this onion. Three things tend to hold a veteran back from finding a job: skills, mindset, and support. Attending worship services can help with all three categories:
Skills. Many veterans have poor job search skills and find it difficult to communicate with civilians. Going to church (or synagogue or mosque) creates time to practice talking with civilians. People want to help so the price of making a mistake is minimal.
Mindset. Lack of confidence and structure often hold back veterans. So does a bad attitude toward civilians. Building spiritual resilience leads to greater self-confidence. Worship service attendance imposes structure on the week. It becomes a catalyst for creating daily structure. Gratitude is central to healthy religious belief. And feeling grateful improves mental outlook and attitude.
Support. Veterans miss the camaraderie and mentorship of military life. A religious community replaces both of these losses. Like in the military, people are part of something bigger than themselves. They share common experiences and a mission. Those with more experience mentor others and together everyone grows.
Religiosity is not a cure-all for the challenges of transitioning. But it addresses many of the areas where veterans struggle. Are you attending services on a regular basis? If so, are you taking advantage of how this can help you? If not, what’s holding you back?
Do you attend worship services?
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