The military can quickly become an all-consuming lifestyle for both soldiers and their families. However, when those soldiers are discharged and released back into the civilian world, one out of five of those soldiers will severely struggle with that adjustment.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively. Those who suffer from PTSD should seek medical attention as soon as possible before symptoms worsen and consume a veteran’s entire life.

However, veterans who suffer from PTSD are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA. Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. This news outbreak, coupled with the 2014 VA scandal, hopefully cause ailing veterans to consult non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life.

However, for the remaining 80% of veterans who return from combat unaffected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder still face a battle of reintegration. After their service is over, veterans might find themselves struggling to find their purpose and value back in the civilian world. Luckily, Adam Leipzig of Tedx Malibu, gave a quick seminar on how to identify your life’s purpose in just five minutes.

Leipzig developed this roadmap of sorts after he went to his 25th college reunion at Yale. While he was there, he said that eighty-percent of his fellow “privileged” colleagues who had “first houses and second houses and first spouses and second spouses” were still unhappy with their lives. He noted how classmates would come up to him and say, “I feel like I have wasted my life and it is already half over”. Leipzig felt incredulous that even such privileged people with all the money, intellect, and “power” still managed to struggle with their purpose and place in society, and so he built a quick program that would help combat this prevalent identity crisis.

Leipzig says that in order to identify your purpose in life, you should first answer five major questions: “who you are,” “what you do,” “who do you do it for,” “what do those people want or need,” and “what changes as a result?”

Once you can identify the answers to these questions, Leipzig says, you can more easily identify your purpose in life. That is, you can recognize who else is depending on you, and that you offer purpose to someone else in your life. Recognizing that you in fact matter so much to others is both a humbling and important duty to uphold.

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.