When Tom Rancich first retired from the military and washed ashore on Martha’s Vineyard, among the many emotions he felt was a sense of letdown.

“I realized that I had a problem and I didn’t have any joy in life because everything had slowed down so much compared to what it was like to be in combat and to lead SEAL teams,” Mr. Rancich said in a phone interview this week.

During a 20-year military career, he had served as a Navy SEAL, a member of the special operations force, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and worked in counter-drug operations in South America.

When he moved to the Island full time in 2005, adjusting to regular life was difficult.

“I had led such an extraordinarily exciting, critical life that settling down was very hard for me,” he said.

He sought counseling at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, where he met with Tom Bennett, a Vietnam-era veteran and the associate director there. But a strong feeling of isolation still persisted until he joined a support group for combat veterans who have experienced symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

“My first time at group, one of the guys was like, hey, you will never be that alive and that excited again but that doesn’t mean you have to be dead either,” Mr. Rancich recalled this week. Though he was the first veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to join the group, he felt a kinship with the other group members. Participants have served in wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as World War II, and range in age from 20s to 70s.

Still, they find common ground.

“There is absolutely a commonality, and the similarity between stories is pretty uncanny,” said Mr. Rancich, a group participant since 2009.

At first, he was hesitant to seek help because while he did lead combat troops, he didn’t consider those combat situations to be particularly intense.

“Coming out of the special forces, I was kind of embarrassed that somebody who had received the training I had was not able to solve this problem myself,” he added.

Many of the 26 combat veterans who receive services at Community Services were also once reluctant to seek help, Mr. Bennett said.

But once they did seek help, they usually wondered why it took them so long.

“Unless you have served or been part of that system, you can’t understand it as well as others who have,” Mr. Bennett said. “So that is a healing thing in itself, that there are other people who have experienced the world the way that you have, and seen things that you wish you hadn’t, and had to do things that you wish you didn’t have to do.”

And despite the difficulty of the veteran’s transition, Mr. Rancich says the family of a veteran may struggle even more. “The family members perhaps suffer more than the military member because they sometimes don’t understand why we are acting in a certain way,” he said. To better support these families, Community Services began a biweekly support group in early September for significant others of veterans. The group provides education to family members and opportunities for peer support.

Julie Meader, whose husband was deployed twice to Iraq, coordinates the programming and reaches out to veterans and their families, partly through the MV Veterans Facebook page. She said it’s important for families to know they are not alone as they try to support their veteran.

“When you are in the military, the whole family is in the military,” she said.

The group is part of an expansion of services for veterans at Community Services, which was made possible by a $75,000 grant from the state department of veterans services. The funds also go towards a lecture series on veterans’ issues which began with a program in October on PTSD.

A video recording of the event is available from Martha’s Vineyard Community Television at mvtv.org. The next event will deal with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, and will take place in January or February.

Ms. Meader is also planning a veterans’ salute during halftime at the Island Cup, the annual football game between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Veterans will be admitted free of charge to the game, which is scheduled for Nov. 22.

Veterans’ Agent Jo Ann Murphy estimates that there are 400 to 500 veterans living on the Island, though a comprehensive tally is difficult to produce. Most of her referrals are word of mouth, she said.

The veterans’ advocates said they hope the public show of support during the football game will help them identify other veterans who may not be on their radar. That’s partly why Mr. Rancich speaks openly about his experience, he said, to encourage others to seek help. “One of the common threads is ‘I didn’t do that much, I didn’t do what you did, I shouldn’t need the help,’” he said. “Those are the guys that we kind of work on a little bit and get them to understand that it’s not about having been in combat for 100 days, it’s about coming back from an experience changed.”