From Trista Matascastillo, St. Paul, MN
Served 16 years in the Navy-Marine and Army National Guard, husband returned from Iraq in 2008 and brother is currently in Iraq on his third deployment.
It is very difficult going from a life of service with a mission that every day someone depends on you to make life and death decisions to a life with civilians who are making decisions about what client to call back first, or what is the best outfit to wear to work.
In the beginning it feels like you are so much more experienced and in a lot of ways you are, but that kind of thinking will only further alienate you from others. Humility is the best possible advice I can give to help with reintegration into civilian life.
I promise in time you will see that your civilian counterparts are skilled and have a lot of experience and perspective that you may not have ever considered. And through that respect for what they do and what they have done, you will learn that you too are valued and respected. Just as you are on edge in the beginning they too are on edge and a little unsure how to treat you, and how to act around you. So, take the first step. Be patient, be nice and be humble and you will see that the transition is much easier.