It’s estimated that nearly half of the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will report at least some difficulty reintegrating to civilian life. Those experiences are often compounded by other factors, like post-traumatic stress disorder. But some Central Texas veterans are learning to use writing to help.
When Lila Holley was younger she loved to write, but as she got older she says she got away from it. Although she would eventually come back to writing at various times in her 22 years in the military, it was always professional, never personal. But in 2012, when Holley retired she had some trouble readjusting and wasn’t sure what to do.
“There was a period in my life where it was just emotionally stressful, literally it could’ve took me out emotionally,” Holley said. “And that’s when I started back writing, started back journaling just to move through those emotions and feelings I was struggling with.”
For Holley, returning to civilian life after her time in the military was difficult. Veterans who leave the military after years-long careers often experience trouble returning to civilian life, and some studies estimate that nearly half of the veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan will report problems reintegrating. Holley eventually became depressed, had anger issues and communication problems. The whole time, she says, she was trying to figure out who she was outside of the uniform – and it wasn’t easy.
“I eventually moved through it with the help of my family, writing and getting some counseling,” Holley said. “And as a result of that writing, I penned my first book. It’s called “Battle Buddy: Maneuvering the Battlefield of Transitioning from the Military”, and in this book I really poured out my heart, the things I struggled with in my transition.”