Veterans' Voices: Life After the Military

28 July 2018 By Zach Waddle 0 Comments

Leaving the military is an experience that can go many different ways. Some veterans are medically separated due to injury or disability. Some may be involuntarily separated for reasons entirely beyond their control. For many, it can be a day they’re looking forward to with as much excitement as anxiety about the road ahead. Readjusting to civilian life isn’t always easy, and living with injuries or trauma can make it even harder. I’d like to share some interviews from Veterans’ Voices that showcase veterans finding ways to reconnect to civilian life after they’ve left the military.

Vietnam Veteran Finds Comfort in Horses, Helps Other Vets Cope

William Goforth, Adrian Hill, Will Davis

Army veteran William Goforth found a way to cope with his PTSD from his experiences in the Vietnam War. For Goforth, it was the trusting and forgiving nature of horses that led him to buy a few. Finding it therapeutic, he joined an equestrian team at the Dayton VA that volunteers to work with veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress. He discussed the success the program has had in helping veterans. To learn more about this incredible program, visit 4 Freedom Equestrian Team.

From the Air Force to Ice Cream, Navigating a Transition out of the Service

Bobby Walker, Allison Loy, Will Davis

Air Force veteran Bobby Walker served as a behavioral scientist before he was involuntarily separated due to force shaping, a restructuring of Air Force personnel. Experiencing anxiety and depression over his separation, Walker sought the help of a mental health professional before leaving the military -- and he recommends others do the same, as they can provide veterans with various resources to help make that transition easier. Upon separation, Walker even started his own company, Fronana, serving dairy-free ice cream made from bananas.

From the Air Force to Ice Cream: One Year Later

Bobby Walker, Anne Moore, Will Davis

One year after his original interview, Bobby Walker sat down with Anne Moore to talk about his readjustment to civilian life and his company, Fronana. Walker would go through a local business competition and take an accelerated course on starting a business. After opening a shop in Dayton, Walker has since begun shipping pints of Fronana all across the country. Although he initially felt alone and somewhat abandoned after being separated, Walker has continued to pursue his dream with a positive outlook.

Veterans Gain Clarity, Control Over PTSD through Adventure Sport

C. Michael Fairman, Jeremy Dobbins, Will Davis

Marine Corps veteran C. Michael Fairman shared his story of working to cope with his PTSD and reclaim his life. As the co-founder of Summit for Soldiers, Fairman explained, “For us, the struggle of climbing a mountain […] absolutely mirrors dealing daily with mental health issues like PTSD.”  He discussed the tattoo on his arm and the flag he carries with him in his pocket that help him keep going when times get tough.

VFWs Look to Attract Younger Veterans

Butch Hansen, Adrian Hill, Will Davis

Air Force veteran Butch Hansen serves as the commander of the Huber Heights VFW. As the future of the VFW depends upon new members, Hansen encouraged young veterans to join and dispelled some of the stereotypes of the organization and its members, explaining that it's more than just a place for old veterans telling war stories and drinking. He discussed the great times to be had at the VFW such as Philly Cheesesteak Night and membership drives, but notes that the most important function of the organization is to provide veterans with resources and somewhere they can feel comfortable.

Best Friends Forever: Two Veterans Find Strength in Service

Amanda Murphy, Jeniffer Seavey, Will Davis

Army veterans Amanda Murphy and Jeniffer Seavey both sustained injuries while in basic training. Although their enlistments would end prematurely, Murphy and Seavey remained friends out of the military. Facing difficulties upon returning to civilian life, Seavey began volunteering with the VMC and Murphy began working at the Dayton VA. Through their new post-military work, they have found comfort in giving back to other veterans.

Reflecting on Military Service Without Combat

Cole Hamilton, Cody Stevens, Will Davis

Army veteran Cole Hamilton and Marine Corps veteran Cody Stevens were not given the opportunity to leave their duty stations in the U.S. during their time in the military. They discussed feeling grateful for not having to experience the horrors of combat, although they both wanted to deploy. Hamilton and Stevens recalled the positive aspects of their service, such as volunteer work and all of the opportunities they earned as a result of their service.

This will be my final post discussing the interviews of Veterans’ Voices and I thought it was a perfect way to end the series. I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to share these amazing stories. As an Air Force veteran of the Iraq War, it has been heartbreaking to hear the suffering that so many have endured, but it has also been an incredibly educational and heartwarming experience seeing the strength and resiliency of these veterans. I would like to thank every person who has ever served in our military, the people behind Veterans’ Voices, and the veterans they have interviewed, as well as the New Media Incubator, the VMC, and Wright State University. It has been an honor and a pleasure!

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