From Combat to Classroom: Canadian Soldiers in Transition
Etherington, Jane Ann
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The conflict in Afghanistan which has predominated much of the first decade of the new millennium has resulted in the creation of a new generation of Canadian war veterans. This veteran culture will include Canadian military personnel who were either directly or indirectly involved in active peacekeeping duty during their careers. Some of these men and women choose retirement to pursue other interests or second careers in the civilian world. Others are facing involuntary early retirement due to permanent medical or combat-related stress factors, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Medical release, in combination with age and socioeconomic circumstances can result in adjustment difficulties (Sweet, Stoler, Kelter, & Thurrell, 1989; Westwood, Black & McLean, 2002). A qualitative study of the experiences of ten Canadian soldiers in transition from military life to civilian education environments over a three-month period from November, 2011 to February, 2012 was carried out. The following themes emerged as major areas of discussion: transition issues, unanticipated transitions and non-events, camaraderie and the veteran identity, transferable skills, and support and resources. The transition model developed by Schlossberg and presented by Goodman, Schlossberg, and Anderson (2006) was used as a guiding theory to develop an understanding of the transition experience in reference to this new population of Canadian military veterans. Theories of cross-cultural transition were used as a framework for discussion. Recommendations for facilitating transition through education for Canadian soldiers are included.