Today we’re talking about the difficulties that veterans experience when transitioning from the warrior culture of the military and reintegrating back into civilian life after returning home from deployment.
While the majority of veterans say that their training prepared them for active duty in the military, only about half of these men and women say that the military prepared them for what would come next… the transition from military to civilian life. Though combat experiences may strengthen many of these veterans personally, these same experiences can make the adjustment of reintegrating back into “normal” life especially challenging.
It’s clear that the impact of war is felt far beyond their tour of duty, and in many cases, carries over into the next chapters of their lives in a very distressing way. It’s a real problem that these men and women who have served their country are not being served in all of the ways they need to be in order for them to heal and thrive when they return home.
My guest today, Dylan Bender, is a readjustment therapist with the Veterans Health Administration Vet Centers program who works with active duty, and veterans transitioning back into the civilian life after combat deployment. He has been working in this area for 10 years and has over 20,000 clinical hours in working with combat veterans and their families readjusting after combat. Among the many people that Dylan has worked with, he was my dad’s therapist for three years at the VA, which took my dad from a man who suffered with PTSD for 66 years, to someone who’s now functioning beautifully with no remnants of those PTSD symptoms.
Dylan joins me today to discuss the challenges that military men and women have when transitioning out of the military and reintegrating back into civilian life. He talks about the influence of behavioral and existential conditioning, the three biggest issues that a warrior struggles with after leaving the military, and the impact that war and this transition has on a veteran’s mental health. Dylan also explains what reintegration stress is, the many uncertainties that veterans have to grapple with post-deployment, and how all of these factors contribute to the suicide epidemic among military men and women.
“We’ve done a great disservice, even to ourselves as warriors, to say that becoming a warrior is simply a job. It is not a job, and it hasn’t throughout history been a job. When you look at warrior tribes throughout history, once a person did that, they took that different path in life because it changes you. It changes you fundamentally – how you view the world, how you interact with the world, how you see yourself in the world. It’s a fundamental, deep shift.” – Dylan Bender
Dylan Bender is currently a readjustment therapist with the Veterans Health Administration Vet Centers program. He works with active duty, and veterans transitioning back into the civilian life after a combat deployment(s). Dylan has been working in this area for 10 years and has over 20,000 clinical hours in working with combat veterans and their families readjusting after combat.
Dylan also served in the Marine Corps for two enlistments as an infantry and reconnaissance Marine. He got out of the Marines in 2004 to pursue his education in clinical psychology to work with veterans and active duty. Dylan did his graduate work at Azusa Pacific’s Graduate School of Psychology. He received a M.A. in clinical psychology, with emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Dylan is currently involved with developing and implementing programs that are addressing Transitioning out of the military, the marriage failure rate, and suicide epidemic among the military, and high-performance mental optimization.
He is about to release his first book, The Warrior’s Dilemma, which takes an in-depth look at the difficulties military men and women have re-integrating back into society.
“You can’t have an honor-based culture that doesn’t have a shame side to it. If you’re not in honor, if you’re not performing, then you should feel shame. It’s not just your own life, it’s your life and it’s the people around you. So, there’s a level of importance for that shame. That shame is a powerful tool. We always say there are three things to get people to comply in the military: pain, shame, and paperwork. And nobody wants to do paperwork.” – Dylan Bender
Check out the video below to watch our interview:
- Visit www.VA.gov to find a local VA center/resources
- Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
- Learn More About Host Paula Shaw
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