Transitioning from military life to civilian life is not easy. It is one of the most significant life changes that every military person experiences sooner or later. Whether you leave after four years or twenty, there comes the time when you have to bid farewell to that uniform forever.
Military life and civilian life are poles apart. The military provides a disciplined life, while civilian life is like going with the flow. It is not easy for military veterans to adjust to the civilian world. Studies show that more than two-thirds of veterans report difficulty adjusting to civilian life.
Whether your service is coming to an end or transitioning by your choice, you must prepare yourself. It is not just a career transition but a complete life transition. Here are six things you need to know before leaving the military.
1. Expenses on Shelter and Health:
It is obvious that upon leaving the military, you will have to give up all benefits, including housing and health benefits, given to you during service. You will have to manage your expenses. Research shows that 40% of veterans leave without shelter when transitioning.
Also, you will have to look after your health even more. Many veterans encounter different diseases during their services or incur injuries. And the treatment continues long after transitioning. For example, individuals who serve in the military have a chance of coming in contact with asbestos, which causes mesothelioma. So even after you transition, mesothelioma doctors will check you out, and getting treatment costs money. Additionally, some veterans experience disabilities. These things demand resources to manage.
Budgeting and financial planning go a long way. When you are about to transition, you need to have all your finances figured out. You need a plan to go from a stable income to a new world where you are at the starting point again. Make a proper budget for at least a year. How much money do you have in savings, how much will you spend each month, and when will you run out of money? You can determine how much money you require by answering these questions to maintain your present standard of living and spending patterns. It will therefore show how desperately you need to obtain employment.
Also, calculate how much you will make after you transition and how much you will be able to save from it. What action should you take today to determine your ease tomorrow? Doing all this beforehand will make you realize if you need to change your habits or lifestyle. When you know your financial state in-depth, you plan better.
3. Benefit Programs and Education:
When you transition into the civilian world, there are many career options. As a veteran, you can work at the federal level, in national guards and reserves, etc. But you can also transit to a completely different career. Do you want to do an MBA? Go for it. But it would be best if you prepared before you leave. Working in a new field will require relevant credentials and experience. You might need GRE to start your application in a few cases. The GI Bill can help you at this stage, so do your research about different education programs, as it will provide you with aids and benefits. Education is valuable in both the military and civilian world; thus, getting an education will highly benefit you.
It is no surprise that you must have brief contact with your family as a serving member of the military. And when it comes to friends, maybe there is no contact. All your friends have now also moved forward with their lives. But when you look at civilian life and careers, you will realize how important it is to have proper contacts. It is where networking steps in.
Any successful person will explain to you how critical it is to build your network. So start contacting your friends and look up your school or college alumni. If there are upcoming events, go to them and start building your network. Your civilian friends can play a valuable role by introducing you to a potential employer.
5. Impressive Resume is Crucial:
An impressive resume probably plays the biggest part in landing a good job. You need to make an impressive resume to stand out. Use your skills and training from the military to your full advantage in your resume, but be careful. Avoid using military jargon or stating skills like how good you are with weapons. But suppose you carefully list your skills like communication, working in stressful situations, handling a team well, meeting deadlines, etc. In that case, your recruiter will be more than impressed.
Also, update your LinkedIn, a digital resume of this age. Get your resume checked by civilian friends. They can give you helpful advice about what works and what does not.
6. Find a Mentor:
When you are transitioning out, or your service ends soon, everyone starts advising you on what to do and what not to do. All this can lead to confusion. So it’s an excellent option to find a mentor. Look for someone who has transitioned before and share your thoughts, ideas, and worries with them. They will give you better and more realistic advice.
They can point out some obvious mistakes you are likely to make so that you can avoid them. There are also different programs and companies for veterans that help them by mentorship to give you all ins and outs you need to know.
When an individual becomes a part of the military, they receive complete training. It means adopting the military language, values, and norms. They make new social bonds but are often detached from their previous ones. When they transition back into civilian life, there is no training. They find it difficult to create bonds again and fit into the civilian world. Knowing and implementing these six things before you leave the military can help you, so you don't have to worry about fitting in or finding your place again.