What should I know about challenges related to jobs and employment?
It can be a challenging time in your life if things aren’t going well at work, or if you’re having trouble finding a good job. Work-related problems affect many parts of your life, so it’s important to find effective ways to cope with concerns related to jobs and employment.
What work-related issues should I keep an eye out for?
Most people experience stress and frustration in their jobs, which is normal in the workplace from time to time. But when stress or frustration are disruptive enough to interfere with your productivity or create other work issues, your physical, mental, and emotional health can be affected. Job stress can put you on edge, keep you up at night, and make life at home difficult for you and your family.
“Some of the stuff that happens in my civilian job would never fly in the military and a lot of times, it really makes my blood boil.”
As a Veteran of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard, a National Guard member, or a Reservist, you bring unique skills to the workplace, but you may also face unique challenges when it comes to doing your job or finding employment. You may find that some of the skills that were effective, even essential, for life in the military do not work as well in the civilian workplace. Perhaps you no longer feel challenged the way you once were, or maybe you see ways your co-workers could do things more efficiently. Reintegration to life and work outside the military can be tough, especially if you’re dealing with bosses or colleagues who seem insensitive to or unfamiliar with your situation.
If you are a Veteran transitioning from military to civilian work, you may:
- Miss the teamwork or unit cohesion you felt during your military service.
- Feel like co-workers or supervisors don’t understand or appreciate your experiences.
- Find it difficult to adjust to new rules and structure — or lack thereof — in your new job.
- Consider your work in a civilian job as pointless or trivial.
- Feel on edge or easily distracted.
- Feel frustrated when co-workers or supervisors are inefficient or ineffective.
Even if you’ve been out of the military for some time, your work situation might be a source of stress in your life. Perhaps you are irritable on the job and get into conflicts with your boss or co-workers. You might have trouble concentrating and completing assignments. Maybe you’ve been passed over for a promotion, and you feel frustrated or stuck in your current position. You may feel pressure from the demands of your job and its impact on your financial situation and your life outside of work.
What can I do about my work-related issues?
You don’t need to make a huge change to improve your situation at work. Instead, focus on the smaller, more manageable things you can control. For example, to cope with work-related anger, conflict, or stress, try:
- Taking breaks when needed and going for a walk or taking deep breaths
- Focusing on tasks one at a time instead of worrying about your entire workload
- Thinking positively, looking for ways you can solve the problem
- Sharing your thoughts calmly with a trusted supervisor or co-worker
- Exercising regularly
- Centering your mind once a day, such as through meditation or prayer
- Taking care of your body by getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals regularly
If your work issues don’t improve or seem to get worse, you may want to reach out for support. Your co-workers, close friends, or family may be the first to notice how your concerns about work are interfering with your life. You might try talking to a colleague or someone in your company’s human resources department. If you are in the National Guard or a Reserve unit, your commanding officer may have experience advising others in similar situations.
“I had heard about someone in accounting who also is a Vet. I didn’t know him, but as soon as we got to talking, I realized that we shared many of the same frustrations — and he had good advice on how to cope.”
There are people who care about you, so turn to them for help in finding solutions to your work-related concerns. Sharing what you’re experiencing can be helpful and may lead you to services that address the issues you’re dealing with.
Take the next step to connect with care.
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New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.
- Getting started is simple. Create a free account online to help ease your enrollment process. To prepare to apply for VA health care in person, by telephone, or by mail, explore VA’s “How to Apply” page.
- Not sure whether you are eligible for VA health care benefits? Read about eligibility for VA health care.
- Unsure of what kind of help you need? Call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387) to find the right resources to meet your needs, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 1-800-877-8339.
- Veterans’ family members and caregivers can see whether they qualify for VA medical benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse, dependent child, or caregiver. Explore family and caregiver health benefits.
Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.
- If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
- With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
- If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.
What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.
- The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
- Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
- VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
- Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers across the nation in all 50 states and US territories that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including counseling to eligible Veterans, service members – including National Guard and Reserve components – and their families. Counselors and outreach specialists, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief, and transition after trauma. To learn more, find your nearest Vet Center. Teams are also available 24/7 by phone at 1-877-927-8387.
What about support beyond VA?
There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.
Explore these resources for helping Veterans address work-related issues.
There may be underlying issues contributing to your problems at work. Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to problems at work, such as feeling on edge, relationship problems, difficulty sleeping, alcohol or drug problems, posttraumatic stress, and depression.