By James Ryan, Editor-in-Chief
One of most unique things about serving in our military, is the fact that, on average every 2-4 years, you were required to move. You might have contacted your assignment personnel, depending on your branch of service, and rank. You might have worked a, “Drug Deal” with people you’ve worked with in the past, or perhaps worked a hardship tour, and picked where you wanted to go thereafter, but regardless you were going to get orders telling you exactly where you were going, and a no later than date of arrival, fit for duty.
This way of life, required you to be a Nomad. It was Nomadic in that you never felt settled. You complained a lot. Even if you served 4 years, you could have performed 2-4 moves, if you include field exercises, attending schools, changing barracks, or renting / buying a home, deployments, etc…You always had this sense of good, and bad stress. Everything became exploratory. You were bombarded with different stimuli. New food, people, culture, job positions, schools, doctors, and religious activities. You might have been in a unit where the people were incredible, but the location was not appealing to you, or you were in a unit where you did not feel that sense of belonging with the people, but the location was amazing. You realized that you didn’t have the same conveniences you had in the United States (some argue one of America’s greatest inventions is the 24 hour convenience store). Nevertheless, whether you liked this way of life or not, it made a huge impact on you, and something you think about often. It developed and molded you in a sorts of ways, even if you did not enjoy living like a Nomad.
Your New Normal
After living a Nomadic way of life, you are out of the military, and settled down. You are in an apartment complex, or neighborhood, and realize, that living like a Nomad is over. You come to grips with it. You are settled physically, but perhaps not mentally. You wake up in the morning, you think back on that Nomadic way of living, and the people you served with. You now have to decide on where you will move, live, and settle down. It is on you, and if married with children maybe a democratic decision, the best you know how, but the problem is before you got ordered to go where you were assigned, now it is on you. Before, if things did not go like you wanted them to go, you could say, “Look honey, the military screwed us again.” You can’t do that now, which can generate anxiety. Our military shelters us, yet at the same time let us to live like a Nomad.
In the past 27 years, the longest I ever lived in one place was 5 years. Living like a Nomad is over, unless of course I seek out opportunities requiring me to pick up and move, but again that decision would rest on me, and would drastically impact my family. What has helped me is getting involved in my community. Break out and embrace, your new normal. Do all those hobbies you used to love, and now have time for. Keep yourself busy, and physically fit, find out where Veterans are in your area and reach out to them. Make different friends that are not Veterans. I play in 2 different bands, both trumpet, and percussion. If you have a talent, go use it. You are not a Nomad anymore. Embrace your new normal.