Transitioning from active duty to life after service can be simultaneously positive and painful, full of both relief and anxiety. Lance Cpl. Nick Wright had his homecoming in 2007 following several tours in Iraq with the Marines Corps. According to the Denver Post American Homecomings project, Wright flew back to his home in California as a decorated war hero, where he settled into the life of a married father of five at only 29 years of age. Despite his family's blossoming since his retirement from the military, Wright found that negative emotions from the battlefield remained in his suburban life.

Steadily improving
For months after returning, the Post noted that Wright was "feeling naked" without an M-16 strapped onto him at all times, avoiding social interactions that may have triggered feelings of anxiety. He found it was difficult to sustain a civilian job without feeling unappreciated for his previous years of military service.

Despite his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis shortly after returning from his last tour in Iraq, Wright told the Post that he appreciates the positives in his life more with each passing year. He is fiercely determined to overcome his situation, though he acknowledges that time has also helped him overcome his initial aggressive feelings upon returning home.

"There hasn't been one year that hasn't been a struggle, but it's getting better," he told the source. "Nothing's ever easy. Who the hell ever said it would be?"

Though he initially struggled to find and maintain a job, in 2012 Wright began his current position with a company that delivers equipment for hospice patients. The Post highlighted the fact that he's found some peace by helping the patients and families through end-of-life issues.

"I get to help patients who are passing on," he said. "You get to understand how the patients' families feel, and it gives me some peace of mind knowing that I did my best to make everyone more comfortable."

Coping with PTSD
According to the Department of Veteran's Affairs, PTSD is a complex disease that affects around 5.2 million people every year. Though many people around the world – around 50 percent – will experience trauma at some point in their lives, it is most common to develop lasting emotions if you were directly exposed to the trauma, were seriously injured during the event, believed that you were in danger, or felt helpless during the event. In the case of many military members, the trauma experienced is often first-hand.

Though there are ways to alleviate the symptoms through therapy or medication, self-help methods may also speed the road to recovery. Wright's reported self-help practices are similar to those recommended by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The first step on the road to recovery is often actively coping with and accepting the trauma that triggered the onset of the condition. PTSD is multi-faceted and can be hard to overcome, so knowing there may be setbacks during the healing period is also important to avoid feelings of defeat. Wright told the Post that his success was due in part to his constant perseverance and dedication to a cure.

The VA's National Center for PTSD notes that healing also does not mean blocking out the trauma that occurred, but being able to cope with the memories and symptoms that may arise. Relaxing activities such as swimming, meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, yoga, and spending time in nature may decrease symptoms over time. Practicing pleasant recreational or work activities has been shown to distract PTSD patients from their symptoms. Similar to Wright's experience working with hospice patients, getting involved in positive activities can promote positive feelings. PTSD may be a reality for some people during their life after military service, but Nick Wright is a case that shows with determination and the right approach, it doesn't have to define it.