There are many stages of life. The process of moving from one stage to the next—called a transition—can be both exciting and difficult. Joining or leaving the military, graduating from school, having a child, retiring, starting a new career, or getting a divorce are all examples of life transitions. Reflecting on which parts of past transitions were smooth and which seemed a bit more rocky can help you successfully navigate new paths in your future.
Continuing the Conversation
Continue thinking about topics raised in your local WoVeN group, or join a discussion with other women Veterans through our community discussion forum.
- What transitions in your life have been the most memorable? Which have been the most surprising? What makes those experiences stand out to you?
- What was it like to transition out of military service? How did you feel at the time (nervous, excited, sad)? What worked well for you during that transition? What might you have done differently?
- Have you had any unplanned transitions that worked out well? What did you do to help make those experiences successful?
- Have you had any transitions that seemed to be a good idea at the time that didn’t work out as well as you would have liked? What did you learn from those experiences?
- What fork do you think is next in your path? What can you do now to help make it a successful experience?
Dive deeper into this theme with these self help tools.
Cool Stuff We Found
Check out these recent articles, podcasts, and book recommendations handpicked by the WoVeN team.
- Success through Transition with Donna Newman-Robinson
In this podcast, Donna Newman-Robinson (an Army Veteran) talks about her path to success and how she helps women Veterans struggling with transitioning out of the military.
- The Psychology of Your Future Self
One of the constants of life is change. In this TED talk, Dan Gilbert dispels the idea that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time.
- Lady Brigade’ an Answer to Limited Patriotic Clothing for Women
Women Veteran owned businesses are on the rise – as many women choose to put the skills they learned in the military to work as entrepreneurs. Here is an article of a woman Veteran who started a clothing line specifically for women Veterans.
- “Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On” by Mark Reinecke
WoVeN Book Recommendation: Transitions often cause stress. This self-help book has strategies to help you manage and reduce that stress.
What the Science Says
Learn about important research that relates to the lives of women Veterans.
Expressive Writing May Help with Reintegration
This study examined whether online expressive writing could help Veterans with difficult reintegration. Expressive writing is a brief intervention in which people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about a life event (in this case, reintegration into civilian life) for about 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days in a row.
- 1,292 Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans (about 40% of whom were women) that reported a little, some, a lot, or extreme difficulties with reintegration participated in the study.
- Veterans assigned to expressive writing reported more improvements in physical complaints, anger, distress, PTSD symptoms, social support, and reintegration difficulties as compared to Veterans assigned to either write factually about Veterans’ needs or not write at all (control conditions).
- About 2/3 of Veterans reported that expressive writing had long-term benefits.
Expressive writing helps Veterans who are having difficulties reintegrating into civilian life. However, expressive writing should not take the place of mental health care for those with severe or ongoing problems with reintegration.
Sayer, N. A., Noorbaloochi, S., Frazier, P. A., Pennebaker, J. W., Orazem, R. J., Schnurr, P. P., … & Litz, B. T. (2015). Randomized controlled trial of online expressive writing to address readjustment difficulties among US Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28, 381-390.
Veterans Discuss Challenges and Benefits of Higher Education
Over 1 million OEF/OIF Veterans are using the GI bill to pursue higher education. This study asked 31 Veterans what helped them (or didn’t help them) meet their academic goals.
- Veterans reported several personal characteristics that helped them meet their academic goals: discipline and organizational skills developed in the military, being goal oriented, and perseverance.
- Veterans described not being ready for school and difficulty fitting in with university life as barriers to meeting their goals.
- Veterans appreciated Veteran-specific services such as early class registration privileges, Veteran clubs, and having a visible Veteran community on campus.
Increasing the visibility of Veterans on campus, helping Veterans’ harness the strengths they developed in the military, increasing access to physical and mental health care on campus, and bolstering academic readiness programs for Veterans may help former service members meet their academic goals.
Norman, S. B., Rosen, J., Himmerich, S., Myers, U. S., Davis, B., Browne, K. C., & Piland, N. (2015). Student Veteran perceptions of facilitators and barriers to achieving academic goals. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 52, 701-712.
Find More Info
Follow these links to find additional information about related topic areas.
One difficult transition that people often face is a period of unemployment. This fact sheet provides suggestions for how to address the emotions that often come along with unemployment.
Aging brings its own set of challenges. This page provides tips for aging Veterans and a video of Veterans who have learned to embrace the changes that come with aging.
Separating from the military is an exciting but challenging transition for many Veterans. Militaryonesource.com has compiled many of the resources available to Veterans going through this transition. Their home page for separation is http://www.militaryonesource.mil/separation-transition.
We particularly like this page about finding the right job for you after separation.