Back in the Groove: How Veterans Find Purpose After Returning Home

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Then nation’s majority suffer from mental illness, alcoholism or substance abuse…” So how do veterans discover their purpose and find true meaning in life? After returning home from battle or active duty, you might feel lost, without purpose, or irritated. It’s natural to go through these feelings of grief and loss, but there’s no reason to dwell in them. As you start a new life, use these tips to regain that sense of purpose and feel invigorated again.


Physical movement gets your heart beating. Blood filled with oxygen and nutrients are distributed throughout your body. Endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals, are released and your mood improves. Just 15 minutes of activity can make a difference. Many returned military servicemen and women find motivation through programs like CrossFit. With a group, you’ll be accountable and more willing to complete exercises every day.


Often, working in assisting others helps you more than them. When you do something to help someone else, you redirect your attention. Those returning from service can find many opportunities to serve with fellow military through organizations like the VA.

Get Counseling

Whether you are struggling with depression, PTSD, or physical injuries, you should discuss the situation with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. They can get to the root of inner problems you might be facing. You can also learn the skills you need to address them when you have the right help.

Join a Support Group

Avoid isolation. When you join a support group, you can socialize with other veterans, which has proven highly effective in staying positive and feeling connected. Use social media to reach out to groups and individuals around the world. Stay connected with old friends and keep active socially whenever possible.

Read a Book

Whether it’s fiction, romance, mystery or self-help, reading can be relaxing as you escape into another world. Figuring out who killed the protagonist in an Agatha Christie mystery increases critical thinking. Self-help, motivational, and spiritual books can provide solutions for daily difficulties and keep things in perspective.

Accomplish One Goal

As you achieve a goal, your confidence builds. When obstacles arise, and they always do, consider it as an opportunity. Develop problem-solving skills and use your creativity when overcoming obstacles. Clean your room, do laundry, write a one-page essay and cross things off your list one-by-one. Gradually you’ll feel more accomplished, more equipped and more confident in other areas of life.

Enroll in an Online Course

Study online courses. Alison, edX and numerous others are free. Penn Foster and Ashworth offer affordable certificates, diplomas, associate, and bachelor’s degrees.

Find Work

You do have job-related skills coming out of the military. Things like computer skills, team building/interpersonal, communication, and more can land you a job just about anywhere. Good Will, Patriot Placements and other organizations offer job search assistance for former military members.

Ask for Help

Don’t try to cope with your situation alone. Your ego can block true success. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to learn new ways of thinking.

Your military service proves you are smart and capable of meeting the challenge. Contact your local Veterans Administration, VA loan office, Wounded Warrior, and other resources for help, tips, and future planning.