Advertisements for the military may make you think that almost everyone who joins up sees combat, but that is not actually the case. Even in the modern world, with wars that seem to drag on for decades, most soldiers do not ever have to fire their weapons.
Military veterans are all those who served, even if they served very recently in modern wars. Throw out the stereotypes about aging veterans from World War II. While many vets do fall into these older age groups, it's problematic that they are what people think of first in many cases, ignoring the realities of young veterans.
Many difficulties come along with joining the armed forces. It's a physically demanding job. You run a high risk of injury or even death. This is especially true for those who see active combat, but it's worth noting that even training can be more dangerous than what many people do on civilian jobs.
Veterans were asked to put their very lives on the line, doing one of the most dangerous and courageous jobs the United States has to offer. This can have a profound impact on them. Many come back home with injuries and disabilities that will never heal, like lost limbs, traumatic brain injuries and other permanent conditions.
For soldiers who have seen active duty, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is unfortunately common. It manifests in many different ways, often leading to mood changes, flashbacks, personality changes, difficulty keeping a job and much more. Many even end up getting divorced, sometimes because they just seem so different from the person they were before.
After returning from active duty, many veterans find it hard to fit back into society. They just feel like they do not have much in common with people in the States. They feel like they see the world in a new and different way that people who never served just cannot understand.
Soldiers know what they're signing up for when they join the military, but that does not mean that they're ready to deal with the true experience of war, either mentally or emotionally. It's hard to say anyone is. War is very difficult, stressful and traumatic. Even a just war to protect the innocent, where the solider knows they are doing the right thing and feels proud of what they have accomplished, can leave someone with mental scars they carry for life. That's just the nature of war itself.
When people think about the injuries that military members suffer, they often think of troops in a combat zone. They consider enemy fire, improvised explosive devices, and things of this nature.
Many soldiers have to deal with invisible injuries when they return from combat. These could include traumatic brain injuries, emotional issues and mental disorders.
When soldiers return to the United States, they can find themselves facing a lot of roadblocks regarding restarting their careers. Sometimes, they do not have skills that translate well into the civilian world. Other times, they have just been out of the workforce for so long that they're not sure where to begin.