What Is a Civilian?

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A civilian is a person who does not belong to any of the various categories of combatants (persons who are members of the armed forces, organized resistance movements, or other groups engaged in hostilities). Civilians are granted protection from the dangers of military operations under international humanitarian law. The term is also used for people not involved in any type of conflict, and may refer to those who do not work for the government or the military.

The distinction between combatants and civilians is an important one for the laws of war, which require that non-combatants be treated fairly and protected from attack by hostile forces. It is also a key element of peacekeeping and statebuilding efforts. For example, in the aftermath of a conflict, it is important to rebuild the economy and establish stable government institutions so that civilians can return to normal lives and the military can be disbanded.

In the United States, the term civilian is most commonly used to refer to a person who does not work in the military or other forms of government service. The Census Bureau uses the term to define workers who are not in a family business and who did at least an hour of paid work or unpaid labor in their own or someone else’s household or business during the reference week of the survey. Retirees, the disabled and so-called discouraged workers are not considered civilians.

When a soldier is transitioning to civilian life, it can be challenging. Civilian life can be different from the structured environment that a soldier is used to, and it can take time to build or join a community that will connect with them on all levels.

The civilian workforce can also be difficult to adjust to, especially if they are unfamiliar with the way that businesses operate. Often, there is a great deal of paperwork and bureaucracy that must be handled by civilians, which can be intimidating. It is also possible that veterans can find that the new culture and customs of a civilian workforce are more difficult to understand, such as the hierarchy and title system.

Many soldiers struggle to adapt to civilian life after a long career in the military. It is important for them to understand that it is not just them who are having a hard time; the process can be difficult for everyone. It is also helpful for them to know that there are resources available to help them make the transition and get the assistance that they need. They should not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek out this help. This will help them to have a more successful and fulfilling life. There are many factors that can make it harder for a veteran to adjust to civilian life, including PTSD and physical injuries. These can be addressed through treatment, therapy and other support. The Army offers a variety of programs to help veterans, families and civilians with their careers after military service.