Fighting Depression in the Military

Fighting Depression in the Military

Struggles soldiers face impact of military life


The lifestyle of our servicemen and women is extremely taxing. It requires physical and mental fortitude. Countless hours of training followed by extensive overseas tours of duty put an irreversible strain on their social and family lives. Many men and women wearing the uniform find themselves fighting depression at some point in their lives.

This relentless barrage of resource-draining tasks can lead to a sense of lacking personal satisfaction. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Dull, numb, and craving more.

Impacts of the Military Lifestyle

Personal relationships have been regarded as one of the more impactful elements in one’s perception of the quality of their life. In the military, personal relationships are heavily affected. The constant out-of-state training requirements, permanent change of stations, and deployments do not foster the development of deep, meaningful relationships. Friendships are forged under fire but are forced to be maintained at a distance. Divorce and infidelity plague our military ranks. The constant search for confirmation of self-worth, affirmation, and a sense of belonging lead many servicemen and women down a dark path.

Alcohol consumption is a staple in the military community. Although it is highly revered as the social norm, in many ways it is the veil used to mask the inequities of how our servicemen and women feel. The veteran suicide rate is approximately 30 per 100,000 population per year. Compare that to the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000 and you can see that the effect of this lifestyle accounts for over a 200% increase.

How Do We Combat Depression in Our Community?

A book I recommend that everyone read is “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. This book highlights the impact that small actions can have over time. Albert Einstein said, ”compound interests is the 8th wonder of the world.” Now let’s apply that compounding effect to every aspect of our lives.

Basic combat training instilled discipline by reinforcing this same technique. Making our beds every morning, conducting physical training, and eating meals at the same times every day. This helped establish a routine which after two months made it exponentially easier to wake up at that early hour, run that two miles at a faster pace, and control our appetite throughout the day.

Set Goals and Make a Plan

There is proof that every veteran has experienced. So, let’s start small and take the struggles of commitment out by making it a habit. First, block out a time to enjoy yourself with friends and family. This time will be dedicated to only them, no work, and no focus on any negativity in your life. Second, find time for yourself! Go hiking, camping, traveling, whatever it is you like to do, but it has to be outside of your own home. Get away from the house and enjoy something in life that puts you at ease. Third, set a new goal and accomplish it. Start small and S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive). Fourth…Rinse and Repeat.

Over time, the constant social interaction will foster those deeper, more meaningful engagements. The consistency in sequential goal setting and completion will give you that sense of accomplishment and value.

This is not an ‘end-all-be-all” solution. This did, however, work for me. It is a constant struggle and maybe a difficult journey to take by yourself. You don’t have to. Use this as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.

If you find yourself in an exceptionally dark place and need immediate help, reach out to 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Someone will be there 24/7/365 to speak with you.

The Green Beret Foundation is near and dear to my heart because as a prior Green Beret, I have seen the impact it has had on not only myself but many of my fellow brothers. If you need assistance, you can learn more about what the foundation offers here.


Our veterans are more than victims of depression and PTSD. This is not a holistic view of our community. Instead, this is an article to show veterans who are experiencing similar feelings that they are not alone and that there are ways to breathe vitality back into their lives.

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