Careful preparation for the transition from military to civilian life is vital.
Most servicemembers know about two years before this transition will take place, according to GIJobs.com. The time allows servicemembers to start preparing for life outside the military. Here are some tips for a successful transition.
Start Your Research
Transitioning servicemembers should start by researching services such as the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides information, tools and training for servicemembers and their spouses. Military transition seminars are also helpful. They can help you get organized and begin thinking about everything you will need to address before, during and after the process starts.
Make a Plan
Now is the time to make a plan – and a backup – for what you want to do as a civilian.
- Choose a field and explore your options. Do you need to earn a degree? Earning a degree online provides servicemembers the needed flexibility and convenience to pursue additional education at their own pace, on their own schedule, from anywhere in the world.
- Consider the financial and family adjustments you will need to make. Many veterans underestimate the cost of leaving the military, according to veterans news site TaskandPurpose.com. Taxes and medical insurance costs, along with adjustments in pay when starting in a new field, can substantially affect net income. Financial advice sites such as The Military Wallet and The Military Guide provide free resources catering to the military community.
- Keep your family involved in the process. Make sure you agree on everything from where you will live to career possibilities. Communication and patience will go a long way toward making your family’s transition a success. The civilian lifestyle is much different than the military, which will require some adjustment on everyone’s part.
- Get organized and stay organized. Make sure your paperwork is completed before you leave the service to avoid possible delays. Keep your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty readily available. You may need it for VA mortgage applications and some potential employers.
Make Connections and Ask for Help
Veterans are skilled in many areas, and generally possess a high level of determination and discipline to get a job done. But to be successful, you must figure out what would be valuable to an employer. When making connections with people in your chosen field, know what it is that you want to do, and how your skills translate to accomplishing those things.
Being specific about your career goals gives people in your network a way to help you when they hear of an opportunity. Don’t just ask for referrals to any available job. Know who you are and what you want, and let other people know it, too.
Making the change from military to civilian life can be stressful. There may be hurdles to overcome, family issues, and/or financial strain. The most important thing you can do is to stay positive. Surround yourself with positive people. Maintain your confidence when faced with challenges. Planning paired with positive thinking are your best recipe for a successful transition.