WSW: The Transition From Military to Civilian Life

Nov 9, 2015

Veterans Park in Kalamazoo
Credit WMUK

Benjamin Busch has written about veterans issues in his memoir Dust to Dust and in publications such as Harper’s. 


The Marine Veteran is a film maker and actor, who played a police in the television series the Wire. He will be at Western Michigan University on Wednesday November 11th as part of a series of campus events for Veteran’s Day. His presentation called Homefront Debriefings: The Lives of Veterans in the First Civilian Division begins at noon in the Fetzer Center’s Putney Auditorium.

Busch says going from combat to everyday civilian life can be jolting. But he says even leaving the environment of home for a non-combat position is still difficult on members of the military and their families.

During his second tour of duty, Busch was wounded in Ramadi. He says he had to “give in to the reality” that he wasn’t coming back. But Busch says when he survived and returned he had to adjust again to civilian life. 

Busch says he found it more difficult to adapt to civilian sensibilities when he came home then it was to adapt to combat for his two tours of duty in Iraq. He says combat “is something that you prepare for,” and the military trains soldiers before they go into battle. Busch says coming back to civilian life is like a deep sea diver who has to come back to the surface very slowly. “You simply can’t change pressure that quickly.”

The arts are where Busch wants veterans to turn to express themselves and discuss their experiences. “I think we’re all either listeners or storytellers, but in the end we all respond to story.”

Busch is introducing a program he calls Talking Service. He hopes to “make a fire that we can all gather around, and everyone has their turn.”