The transition from military to civilian life can be abrupt and disorienting. We can undergo a special kind of culture shock where everything feels both foreign and familiar, making us feel lost in plain sight. It can be hard to adjust to having a lot more agency combined with a lot less structure, especially if we spent our entire lives either in school or in the military. We can feel like we lost our community, our purpose, and our identity all at once. And if we have encountered any traumatic experiences in our service, we are often left to process them around people who—no matter how much they love us—have difficulty understanding what we are going through. As isolating as it can feel, it can help to remember we’re not the only ones living through this, and that we have access to tools that can help us take charge of our lives.
In the return to civilian life, many women find that veteran services fall short of their needs. Unemployment rates for female veterans are higher than for other women, as well as for male veterans. Female veterans are at least twice as likely to be homeless than women who haven’t worn a uniform.