Is the Veteran Community Engagement Gone?
Leaving Mainstream Society
While traveling on the road the past few years I have come across many Veterans from different branches of the military. After I get talking to them and get to know them, many seem to have left mainstream society to live a better life; a simpler life on the road. Many of those Veterans took work camping positions or just enjoy living on the road doing odd jobs here and there.
A few have gone back to college and are working on their degrees. What the majority of those veterans have in common, is their desire to unplug from society and free themselves from the toxic relationship between mainstream society and Veterans.
The toxic relationship has been around for years. But, I believe that in recent years the relationship has manifested more into most areas of society. The community doesn’t understand what Veterans need. There is a lack of workplace acceptance of Veterans. Veterans are having more challenges in getting guidance on proper transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Society Challenges for Veterans
See, I have been in all the above challenges in society. I have been discriminated against multiple times in employment due to my disabilities. I have had to explain over and over and over again what challenges I am facing in getting proper health care, even when I was referred to a local doctor from the Veterans Affair Regional Offices.
As a matter of fact, I am still dealing with getting the proper medical treatment that I keep getting denied. This is because I travel for long periods of time and I stay short periods of time in remote areas. And last but not least, I have not gotten a proper transitioning plan from the military. We attended classes for days. All the classes taught you planning, but no ways to implement those plans.
I was homeless when I left the military for 6 months. During that time I lived from my Jeep. If any of you are familiar with soft top Jeeps, you would understand how miserable camping in my Jeep in the Seattle winter was. I got denied shelter many times because the shelters were taking recovering drug addicts before considering Veterans.
When I inquired about the policy, they stated that the population of drug addicts was larger than that of Veterans. Let’s be clear: I have no problems giving my place for a person in need. But day after day being turned away, along with old people, just because there’s no place, while the shelters were full of addicts or recovering addicts, does take a huge toll on you.
I was able to pick my feet up and make things happen. I went back to school and earned my master’s degree, started a business since I was getting refused for jobs left and right. In 2014, and I applied for 500+ jobs and got no job. Most recently, from 2017 to 2018, I applied for over 700 jobs, and you guessed it, I have not heard back from any of them. Due to those circumstances, I decided to ditch society and purchase my RV in 2018. I have not looked back.
I have visited 9 states already. and I am able to explore these states, enjoy them and learn about the people who live in them. I am able to pursue the things I want and I am sure it will pay off in no time. My relationship with Kate got stronger. I am able to give reasons why I love or don’t like some states. And, I am able to share this journey with whomever I want.
When I was a little kid, I used to hear it all the time, “When you grow up you should make enough money to travel the world.” I was on that path, making money to travel the world. I realized traveling the world the conventional way is expensive. That’s when I opted out to unconventional ways of living to get to pursue my dreams. I started with the US and once I have the minimum living lifestyle honed down here, I will be transferring it to other countries and work on exploring them as well.
How did All that Help me as a Veteran?
That is a simple question to ask, at least to me it is. As a Military member, you are part of a community, a very tight-knit community. I was so close with my platoon that we can all guess what someone would say before they actually said it. We all cared about each other and we wanted nothing but the best to each other.
So, coming from that environment into the civilian world where people stab you in the back just to get ahead of you was a tough transition. You have to constantly watch your back and make sure you are striving to move forward at the same time. It was draining and you had no trust with anyone. Until I found the RV community. It a community where everyone is simply a genuine person. You can tell what they are made of but just spending a few minutes talking to them. They are always eager to help either with information or even lend you a much-needed hand in a project for your RV.
So looking at it from my perspective, Veterans have not lost their community engagement, I believe the engagement is still there but it might have shifted into non-mainstream communities. To me, I found my community by being an RVer.
Are you a Veteran? and if so what communities have you joined to fulfill that longing to the brotherhood/sisterhood?