After the military: 3 actions you must take when moving onto civilian life
It’s possible that some of you are just like me and started the journey in the military at a young age. All these years in the Army gave me a purpose and a bunch of values. My years in the service provided all the necessary guidance and I internalized the Army Values.
My life was linked to the military culture and along the years it defined also who I am today.
But, there was a point when I felt lost and miserable. And that moment was when I took off my uniform. I made a resume and I put all my faith in a recruiting company for the best option and a good salary. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the best steps to transition into the civilian life and I realized that it was a wrong job.
After 22 years of military service I ended feeling out of this world, unemployed and totally overwhelmed by the tech bubble.
#1 Embrace your assimilation to civilian life
Every soldier have a story. Some of us were entrenched in bloody combat, other were not. Some have a long career, some have a short one.
When you return home and embrace your “new” civilian life take some time to decompress. There are psychological affects that you need to control and resolve – for some it can take years.
Try as much as possible to have a breathe and let go the old routine. Build a new one and find some determination to realize a new life.
This process is different so you need to have patience. Start to know yourself better and make a plan. You won’t achieve this transition overnight.
The real you is buried under those military clothes and the military culture. You may feel somehow absent without the pattern of the military uniform. I was feeling guilty for about 1 month when I left service just because I woke up at 8 a.m. in the morning.
Don’t worry about this. Spend some time with you, look inside you and discover your real values. After all, these values made you join the military, right?
This is what I did in the first stage. I had good friends around me, my family support and my dogs. In addition, my continuous training and learning for survival scenarios kept me on the go.
More, all the skills about prepping for current days scenarios were a critical component to my adjustment process.
#2 Identify your gaps
It’s very important to understand what are your next steps. Search and find the gaps in your professional and personal network. Write down you skills and make a self-evaluation. All of those will matter a lot when you will be in front of a hiring officer.
When you search for a job, take in consideration that you will need a reason. You can’t rely just on your career and maybe on some recommendation.
When you answered the call you volunteered because of family tradition or patriotism. Now, beneath education you must search for a new mission. Without this, your resume won’t be worth more than the paper it’s written on.
You aren’t just on the way for a new job. You are discovering your new life.
How do you plan for your next career?
1) Reevaluate yourself and decide what you want to do. Make a list with some jobs you would love to do.
2) Don’t settle on one industry. Be open to a variety of jobs and career fields.
3) Talk to individuals who work in the industries you’re considering; Grow your network and join groups that can help you or recommend you
4) If you need to pursue additional certifications this may be the perfect time.
Another thing that I know is that all the transition assistance programs are not oriented to your personal success. I tried one of those programs, but I have a bad taste about it. Maybe it’s just me, but as far as I know these program purpose is to allay the burden unemployment compensation for new veterans that go onto civilian life.
Unemployed veterans who are newly separated from the military’s active component or who are deactivated after serving on active duty in the reserve component are eligible for the special program called UCX – Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members.
The UCX program is administered by the states on behalf of the Department of Labor, but it is paid for by the military, as the recipients’ former employer. In all, the Department of Defense spent $310 million on UCX benefits in 2016, down from a peak of $1.0 billion in 2011.
#3 Learn the game
When you pass to a civilian job you must know what to expect. Have in mind that most of the workforce doesn’t understand your military experience. Don’t stand against that, because they simple don’t know.
There is a big cultural gap between civil and military and everybody have different expectations. So try as much as you can to leave behind all the mannerisms that helped you succeed in the military. These approaches fail in the civilian world and nobody likes a person who is socially awkward.
Be yourself and try to understand how things work in the civilian organisations.
I recommend you consider these things before you start working on your resume. Just remember, you are not looking for a job, you are looking for a new life.
The new job will make you feel important and useful. More, if you do something you love, at the end of the day you will feel satisfaction and maybe a little change you made to the world.
It’s the same thing I feel when I teach some young guys little tricks from the Army or some skills on surviving. It’s just a better day for me if I know that one day those skills will pass to the next preppers. Meeting people and applying the experiences learned in the military made a big step in my “transition process”.
Don’t compare with others. You are living an unique experience and this struggle is real.
Just remember that for the most part of retiring from the military service you experienced and conquered much more than most could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime. For me, I love people and wild life, but I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family. Luckily, for me I have an occupation that provides both.
How prepared are you to reintegrate? What plans do you have or how did you succeed? Share your tips with us below.