Corey Christian, who spoke with MilSuccessNet guest blogger, Jonathan Raab, shared the situation that met him on his return from deployment in Kuwait.Now back in NYC, he and his wife are rebuilding from the extreme damage to their home during Hurricane Sandy. Christian still serves with the National Guard, and is reassembling his career and home life along with his physical home.
In this post, he and Raab, discuss:
- the mental hurdles that come with returning from military roles
- shifts in plans and relationships that happen
- the spirit that helps vets and their families move forward
Because of his time with the Fire Department, Corey was eligible for a promotion – but because he was overseas during the registration period for the Firefighter Academy, he was unable to join the January Academy class.
He will be eligible for the next Academy class in July. Once a trained firefighter, he plans on staying in until retirement. His goal is to become a fire chief.
Most soldiers do not go through deployment and re-integration alone. It has been said that families serve and sacrifice just as much as their loved ones in uniform. Corey’s wife, Nicole, spent almost a full year away from her husband.
“You can’t be happy without the one you love,” Corey said. “Since I’ve been home, it’s kinda like ‘Yeah, you’re back, I’m happy, but now I’m depressed about the house.’ It’s still a battle to get things back to normal. She’s going out more – she never used to go out with her friends. Not because I was the soldier overseas, but because she never felt happy.”
Corey said that since he has been home and making progress on the house, Nicole has been able to focus on pursuing her PhD.
With his time on active duty behind him, Corey wants others to understand the mental and emotional hurdles returning veterans face.
“I definitely think that a lot of soldiers coming home feel a sense of confusion and loneliness that’s really hard to explain,” he said.
“It’s not that you think you’re better than civilians, but you just don’t view things the same, so it’s always good to try to keep soldiers together.
I really don’t think that the Yellow Ribbon [re-integration] event is sufficient enough, because everybody just wants to go there and get out. But I think that they can come up with other ways to try to keep soldiers together, because those are the only people who can understand you. Even if it’s a deployment where you are getting mortared every day in Afghanistan as opposed to security forces in Kuwait, coming home you are still going to face those same issues.”
At the end of our interview, Corey prepared to return to work. Already he was thinking about the next project – the next room to paint, the next floor to tile, and the next challenge in rebuilding a home and a life.
Jonathan Raab is currently exploring career opportunities in the Denver, Colorado area and is continuing work on a satirical novel about war and the post-modern veteran experience. Follow him on Twitter at @jpraab
SUBSCRIBE today and catch all upcoming posts by Jonathan Raab.
By REQUEST, we’ve kept the group photo depicted in the banner carousel up for a 2nd go round. In it, Specialist Corey ‘Doc’ Christian, with Third Squad, Third Platoon, Alpha Company, 2-108 Infantry, Kuwait, 2012. Doc is standing to the right of Jonathan Raab at the centre.