Self-Actualization in the Military

Social Health

2014 Patrol Pathfinder Course

Abraham Maslow said self-actualization is “…to become everything that one is capable of becoming,” which sounds very similar to the old U.S army recruitment slogan, “Be All (That) You Can Be.” My interviews with Canadian Veterans of Afghanistan support the idea that the military can facilitate self-actualization; the problem is that this can often contribute to issues among individuals leaving the military who are unable to maintain this high level of self-actualization due to the relative lack of self-actualizing institutional supports in civilian life.

As stated in my previous reflection on self-actualization, the concept has been overly individualized and we need to recognize that it must be achieved by engaging with the world rather than from over-introspection or reading self-help books. Do an image search of “self-actualization” and you will see a common theme of solitary individuals, usually on mountain peaks. Distinct from the image of liberated mountain meditators…

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