Retired from the Navy... now what?

I retired from the US Navy in 1992. I moved from job to job, never staying at one very long. I lose sleep, and dream about the Navy on an almost nightly basis. I wake up crying, and can't remember why. I collect a pretty good pension, and disability, as well as SS.

I still feel empty. Like no one has a place for me. I'd go back tomorrow if I could. What am I supposed to do?

Comments for Retired from the Navy... now what?

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Me too
by: Max, Terre Haute, IN

I am a Navy Vet also I got out in 71 with no intention of any more military. Eleven years later I joined an Air National Guard Flight Wing in my home town. I spent 24 years and retired in 06. I was only a "weekender" but I really miss it.

I also retired from my management job with the state in 09. I too have been floundering. My wife is happily retired and enjoys retired life.

I really miss the comradery. Two of my best friends have died in recent years and since I don't work I miss my civilian and military pals.

I recently joined the "Noon Optimists" which raises money for a clothe the child campaign.I'm not sure it is a good fit but will try it for a while. I wish I could re-join the Navy but I know that's just silly since I'm 68 yrs old.

The contracting job someone talked about sounds good but I also have a 97 yr old mother in assisted living I look out for, so moving or being away for an extended time is currently out of the question.

My major hobby, and interest, is reading but since it is a solitary pursuit it doesn't help the hole in my life much. I sympathize but do not think that there are any easy answers.

Look at the blessings you receive everyday

I live in a poor country where getting a pension is something very difficult. Many people live their last years in poverty but many of them are happy because of their families, good health, friends,and trying to help others.

When I read about people with many things around but very unhappy, I think that many times we see the glass half empty not full. I admire those who, in spite of a very difficult economical situation or a hard health problem, try to enjoy everyday for the blessings that all human beings receive.

So my invitation is to be grateful with the little or much we have.If you live alone try to get friends or be a volunteer, helping others is wonderful.

Days are short to suffer. Change your mind! be sure you can !!.

by: Char

I concur with Wendy - seek some advise and perhaps treatment from the VA or your primary care provider and share this with them *the dreams.

Next - No one can talk to someone about the things we have gone through in the military with any validity other than someone who has walked the walk.

Have you considered volunteering to help our wounded warriors or perhaps veterans who have come back suffering with PTSD who are not able to hold a job or are homeless?

There is such a need in so many areas to help our returning veterans. You have worn the uniform and can identify with perhaps some of what they are feeling.

Volunteer at a VA hospital - or center - or even a homeless shelter.

I find that often in helping someone else through a difficult time we really are rewarded ourselves because there is such joy and satisfaction in helping change a life when we help someone else.

I know for myself if I am feeling low if I will stop and count my blessings and just stop focusing on myself and think about someone who is truly hurting, I can quickly become a happier person since helping others brings a purpose to my life.

Truly when we are doing for others there is no greater joy and most of the time we get as much if not more from what we do than the one we are seeking to help.

Giving up the uniform is tuff for all of us who have worn it. It is a part of us that will always remain, but we have to move forward. None of us no matter what we did in our younger years can ever go back.

I can assure you, todays military is not the military of 20 years ago and even if you could go back, it would not be the same.

It does not mean that you can't have an encore that is just as successful and perhaps even more satisfying than even your time in uniform.

You just need to find that place that you can use your skills, knowledge and training that will launch a new passion for you.

Here are some other suggestions:
Boy Scouts - ROTC - Coaching sports - Not sure how old you are but have you considered Federal civil service or NAF? What about getting involved in your church - mentor young teens who do not have fathers in their life - Boy and Girls club - YMCA -volunteer with the American Red Cross to go to areas hit with disaster - your community citizens volunteer police force - your community volunteer emergency management and disaster preparedness team - Habitat for humanity building homes - Christmas in April helping to repair homes for the elderly - if you are near a base or post volunteer to work in the retirees service center - Get involved in non-profit fund raising events - support your local police and fire departments.
Volunteer at your local hospital helping to take patients to physical therapy or when they are discharged -
Any of these activities will open new worlds and friends to you -

Just remember every day is a gift to be opened each morning with excitement and anticipation of what it will hold - but we have to open the gift that day to experience the joy.
Best of luck and thank you for your service to our country.

People do care
by: Len from Palaiu

Here on this awesome site, you have people who care. Please don't give up. I don't know if Wendy would allow this but I am putting my email just so you have someone to write ( if you decides to. I have friends here and other sites for retirees and those with disabilities. It has become like a hobby and I love it. I am an educator and English is my second language so at times I help with it and do learn other languages. Then I like fishing so I share about that, canoeing and so is very nice. I feel that people like us could help others. Take care and always remember you are not alone.

Retired Army
by: Sharon

I totally get how you feel. Retired in 2001 after 26 years. Thank goodness I was called back to be a contractor with the Military Department or who knows what would have happened. It is hard for civilians to understand the comadrre and closely knit group the military is.

I have just turned 60 and with another smaller retirement check from my civilian job I thought I'd give it a shot. Promised my husband I would give it three months if I was still feeling a bit lost I would go back to work. Have you thought about volunteering possibly at the VA. Also I have taken up with an exercise group that keeps me moving.

Get involved
by: Elizabeth

I did not serve, but was a Marine Corps spouse for 23 years active duty. It has been over 20 years and I still miss the military family, every day.

Over the years I have been a volunteer in military connected charities, so many need help. Wounded Warriors always looking for assistance. It would give you a chance to share your knowledge and experience with young and old alike. You will always be a member of the military family, step up and give Back!

Semper Fi.

Getting Help
by: Carol Lynn Parker

I agree with Wendy's post. It does seem like you could use a little help. You should not have to feel the way you do. Our society has come a long way to understand different types of depression and the causes and remedies.

Perhaps volunteering to help other veterans or service organizations like USO or VFW would bring you in contact with other men and women who can understand your feelings. Offering your assistance to others is a very rewarding occupation.

You can get as involved as you like from a few hours a week to more than full time.

Retired from the Navy - jow what?
by: Patti - La Grange Park, IL

Thank you for your service to our country - you can be very proud of that as most people have not made that sacrifice.

I still struggle with how to fill the hours each day. I volunteer, I read, I write emails, I knit, I shop and go to the fitness center most days.

It is a struggle though. The days are long....I don't feel depressed as much as just bored and lonely. I really miss my coworkers who all live quite far from me.

Navy veteran too
by: Anonymous

I retired from the Navy in 94 but my pension is very small n th San Diego area. There are so many volunteer positions related o the military here and other agencies. I do not have any passionate interests either. So, 20 years later I retired from the county and went back to work for he county, where I am happy, only issue I have is that mst people have a mind that is 30 years younger.

by: Wendy

First, THANK YOU VETERAN for serving our country!

You've been retired from the Navy for over 20 years -- what can you do to stop looking backwards in time and begin to move forward in retirement? There is little you can do about your Navy service... it's over. Be proud that you served -- but choose to find a new life in your retirement -- and NOW.

Do you have any old Navy buddies? Can you call or visit someone just to talk about the old days? See if they remember things you don't?

I actually wonder if you might have PTSD? Have memories that are not good, but you suppress them? Can someone have PTSD for over 20 years? I don't know.

Visit a Veterans Hospital... some are quite nice. That way you'll see a doctor who is experienced in Vet issues. There may be Vet support groups in your local area too. Please take action and help yourself.

See a doctor, please. Nobody likes meds, but get this under control. Later, you'll feel much better and you'll find new adventures in life. You will get past this...

Sending prayers your way!

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