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What It's Like to Transition Off Active Duty, in GIFs (Part IV)

Need to get caught up? Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Part IV: Hitting Your Stride

First couple of paychecks under your belt, and you’re ready to look for a place. Game on! You didn’t watch those hundreds of hours of HGTV for nothing.

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You found a place! Time to get your stuff out of storage and find out what broke during the PCS. You’re not sure how your dresser was shattered into five million pieces, but who cares? You’re too excited.

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When you went through TAP and everyone told you to file a VA disability claim, you said “no thanks.” You’re not that hurt, and other people need it more, right?

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But lying awake with your bum ear ringing (and/or your knees throbbing, back hurting, your amygdala telling you you’re about to be eaten by a bear in the comfort of your own bed), you’re beginning to question the wisdom of that decision. Ok, maybe it’s time to file a claim.

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You can figure this out! It’s just some paperwork, right? A visit to eBenefits to check out the details suggests otherwise.

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You call in reinforcements in the form of a VSO. For the low, low price of zero dollars and your medical records, they’ll take care of it for you. Score! Asking for help isn’t that bad. You should do it more often.

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You realize you haven’t talked to any of your old military friends in months, so you text a buddy who separated around the same time. As it turns out, they’re dealing with the same stuff. You communicate through memes, which is surprisingly cathartic. You’re not alone!

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Everybody from your therapist to your partner to your Facebook ads seems to think you’ll feel better if you start exercising again. You attempt an old PT workout, but it’s not the same when nobody is yelling at you. Time to try something new.

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Ok, apparently there’s exercise outside of pushups/situps/running and it’s actually fun. Now, you’re a lean, mean dancing machine. 

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Your new exercise routine has got you on an endorphin high. Things are really looking up!

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You love your job, but one of the things you miss most about the military is serving others, so you track down a volunteer gig in your community. Sense of purpose restored!

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At some point, you begin to realize that your military service will always be a part of who you are (a huge part), but it’s not your entire identity forever. You have an opportunity to use your skills and experience to benefit your community, to learn new skills and have new experiences, and to write your next chapter. It’s actually pretty exciting. 

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