It's truly a small world sometimes! I was a 15U in the Army (Chinook mechanic) and ETS'd in 2006. After stumbling around for a few years I finally got my head on straight and I'm currently working through my 3rd semester of an ADN program while working in a hospital as a CNA. I'm quite a ways from the nearest VA hospital so I'm not real familiar with that but I will say that civilian employers absolutely LOVE us vets, especially if you're a nurse. We tend to not shy away from the dirtiest jobs, usually have better initiative than civilians, we're punctual almost to a fault, and we've had professionalism drilled into us for so long we don't know any other way to be. Just putting a bug in your ear that the civilian sector has PLENTY of jobs for nurses that are vets until you can get that dream job.
As far as comparing to AIT, I would say that it depends on you and how complicated your life is now before school. Being older and having a family of my own now, I sometimes have trouble balancing work/school/family/life's curves but compared to dodging bullets, mortars, and RPGs I would say that I'm living the good life
Just roll with the punches and you'll do fine.
Overall, I have had great experiences during my time as a CNA and even in clinicals. I would compare it to the humanitarian missions I was apart of in the military but it holds a bit more meaning for me that I'm helping people of my own community. Good luck to you with school and in case no one else has told you, welcome home!