Article by CHS PhD Candidate Michael Stajura published in TIME Magazine: "What Ails Vets Today"

Printer-friendly version

What Ails Vets Today

Adjustment to civilian life means leaving behind the most supportive and cohesive social network they've ever experienced

by Michael Stajura

CHS PhD Candidate

When I joined the Army as a 17 year-old, I expected to face many challenges and hardships as an individual—whether that meant getting yelled at or shot at or made to jump out of airplanes. What I didn’t yet understand was how much I’d put aside my individual concerns and focus on my fellow service members—or how much they’d do the same for me. The truth is that I had never been in such a supportive social environment in my life.

That might sound odd to people who’ve never been in the military. Getting chewed out for not having your shoes shined hardly seems “supportive” to most people. But that’s just one part of the military experience. In the Army, it mattered to someone else whether or not my boots fit properly. It mattered to someone else whether I had been to the dentist recently.  It mattered to someone else if I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at the right time. (Believe me, I’d hear about it if I wasn’t.) To be sure, all of this attention paid to my performance was in the interests of team performance, but it also meant someone was always there for me. We learned to think of others first. If I was on a road march and a member of my squad was struggling, I would help share his load.  If I was on crutches and couldn’t carry my tray in the dining hall, a fellow soldier would be right there to help me.  That’s just how it was.

Read more: This Is What Ails Our Veterans Today |