Why I left America – And Why Other Veterans Are Leaving Too…

You aren’t crazy for wanting to move abroad. I’ll lead with that and to let you know that millions of Americans live all over the world and I’d estimate half a million of them are veterans. If you feel out of place where you’re at, if you’re thirsting for adventure, seeking to escape the rat race, or fed up with American political division, crime, or whatever else – you aren’t alone.

The prospect of moving abroad in today’s world is more doable than ever and I’m writing this to provide a pathway, ideas, and hope for my brothers and sisters in arms. To propose the thought that maybe a higher quality life is a plane ticket away. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or without challenges. But I realized in my years living abroad that sometimes in order to change your life, it might take changing your environment.

A Better Life At Half The Price Is Possible

It’s probably important to let you know about me, my story and why I feel I needed to write this blog and the Free Veterans Guide To Moving Abroad. I’m an Army combat veteran who felt lost when I got out of the military. My journey leaving the military was a roller coaster ride. I had meltdowns battling PTSD, got married and divorced, struggled with alcohol, visited brothels in Thailand, spent a night or two in jail, got married and divorced again (facepalm), joined a motorcycle club, got addicted to pills, and spent hundreds of hours in tattoo parlors.

Feeling lost is a terrible feeling, especially when you feel out of place in your own hometown. I learned in order to find myself – I had to first lose myself. I ended up living in the Dominican Republic and somehow I felt more at home than in my American hometown. I started sleeping through the night, connecting with nature, and disconnecting from the stressful nature of the country I fought for.

Eventually I stopped taking the PTSD medications that I had been on for years. I realized one evening watching the sunset that for the first time since I got out of the military, I felt content. I started sharing information on social media and was surprised at the reaction, a whole hell of a lot of veterans were interested in moving abroad. Don’t believe me? Check out this 15K+ Facebook group of US Veterans Living Overseas.

American Veterans Deserve More

America has always made enormous demands of us and frankly, there was no winning our wars. No way we could have found the WMD’s in Iraq or won the War on Terror in Afghanistan. There was never going to be victory parades for the millions of Americans who sacrificed year after year in the Middle East. The struggles veterans face aren’t a secret, veteran suicide has become as ingrained into American culture as baseball and Taylor Swift. But we didn’t fight wars for over twenty years to come back and live in a country at war with itself.

Veterans are communal people; we prioritize teamwork and selflessness. I left my tight knit military family and emerged into a society that feels artificially divided. During our basic training or boot camp, the military takes young men and women from all over, different races, religions and classes and forges them into a team that would die for one another.

Can you imagine another aspect of American society where you could take a Puerto Rican kid from New York, a good ol’ country boy from Texas, and a single Black mother from Chicago and have them turn into brothers and sisters? In today’s America? I can’t.

Enjoying a beer and sunset on the coast of Africa, check me out on Instagram and TikTok for living abroad adventures.

The American dream is alive, it’s just not in America. The rising cost of living and inflation hits veterans on a fixed income especially hard. Financial health is mental health and when you can live cheaper, life gets easier. My apartment in Boston was $2,500 a month and my rent in the Dominican Republic is $500. My first apartment abroad in Thailand was $350 a month. But it’s not only living a higher quality of life that’s appealing abroad for America’s veterans, it’s enjoying a reprieve from the reality show of the United States. Check out my article 5 Tips For Vets Moving Abroad and Planning Your Vet Move Abroad: The Financial Aspect where I write about picking you country.

We gave a lot to a nation that gave us little, and we’re so fed up with the tension and absurdity that we’re leaving. We can receive our military benefits abroad, get cheaper healthcare, and live higher quality lives. We learned you don’t get rich working for the government unless you’re in congress, but we don’t need to be rich by American standards to live well abroad.


  • If you can thrive abroad, you can do anything. The concept of leaving your previous life behind used to be a normal part of humanity, we’ve always migrated. We’ve traveled to find peace, we’ve traveled for war, to escape religious persecution, for political reasons, and for economic opportunities. With the exception of forced migration through slavery, we’ve left our homes for one basic reason, the hope of a better life elsewhere.
  • There’s no magic button to push that’ll send you into a new life, no way to see into the future to see how the move worked out for you. A lot of people ask me “Where do I start?” and just by asking that you’ve already started. The idea is the starting point, once you’ve seriously viewed moving abroad as an option, you’re halfway there. The rest is little steps, annoying things, and then execution.

  • The military effectively prepared us to thrive as expats, we’re adaptable, adventurous, and know how to take care of ourselves.
  • Moving abroad is probably about as close to a fresh start as you can possibly get. You’re leaving your past life behind and starting a new adventure, there’s a lot of beauty in that. We’ve all made mistakes, sabotaged our own lives, wasted money, had failed relationships, and done stupid things. Moving abroad offers you a chance to forgive yourself, start anew and put your best foot forward without the weight of the past.

  • You have an opportunity to create your best self in a brand new place. There’s a lot of emotions involved with moving abroad. You’ll run the gauntlet of human feelings and one moment be incredibly excited and the next terrified. There’s no such thing as a perfect transition abroad so you can throw that idea out of the window and roll with the punches.
  • The Veteran expat community is alive and growing and there are Veteran organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legions as close as Mexico and as far away as Thailand. More and more veterans are waking up to the idea that a better life post-service might be overseas.

Note: My mission is to provide positive information for veterans about living abroad, resources and information. There are no affiliate links in any of my living abroad articles. I believe sometimes veterans can be healthier and happier outside of the United States. There’s no running away or escaping your problems. But often times, you can heal, grow, and find peace abroad in ways you can’t in the USA. Read and download my Free Veterans Guide to Moving Abroad. If you’re struggling with your mental health, I’m here for you if you want to talk. 

If you want to support me, check out my books 365 Days of Veteran Affirmations ,AUSA book Combat To College for Student Veterans and my other books listed on my site.

For additional readings check out my Veterans Living Abroad Blog where I have a variety of articles on everything from country guides to dating abroad.

I respond to all my social media messages here on Instagram and emails through my site as long as it’s not weird. Sometimes it just takes me a few days. I don’t have all the answers, nobody does but I have some. You can also contact a veteran organization or chat with the Veterans Crisis Line if you’re going through some things. Thank you for your service and God Bless You.

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