Transition = Change

Transition is literally changing from one condition or place to another.

Change is inevitable in life and transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a stressful one. There are career possibilities, school opportunities and financial costs that need to be considered or at least thought about. The military has an extensive array of services to help make your transition a success. Be sure to take advantage of these resources and assistance. Know what you are good at, what you like to do and where you can provide value to you and your family. Basically, you need to plan where you are going, literally and figuratively.

There will be a dramatic change in your personal finances when you leave the military. It may take longer to find employment or get your paperwork completed for furthering your education and obtaining benefits. Don’t forget to budget your money. For years the military covered your housing, food, utilities, medical and dental, etc. Now you will be paying for those items yourself. Start saving money BEFORE you get out of the service.

When it comes to employment, there may be a gap between your military experience and the skills needed for civilian employment. Not all employers will understand your military or leadership skills. Keep in mind that some employers value military service and will often seek out military personnel.

There will also be those employers that have no idea what it is like in the military and they may have a misperception, often negative, of military veterans. You may need to work hard to overcome those perceptions. You may have to start at a lower level than anticipated or you may have to work harder to learn the skills needed for that particular employer.

You may need to learn how to “sell yourself” in writing your job resumes. Be honest about the value you can bring to an employer in a competitive environment. For example: being a tank driver or infantryman does not really transfer well to a job in the civilian world. However, managing people and problem solving are great skills in any job.

Keep your DD 214 handy. I recommend making copies and keeping the original in a protected sleeve. You never know when you will need it. For example, you may need it for a home loan or potential employers may want verification of your military service. In addition, service organizations will often ask for one to prove you are eligible to join their organization.

Get copies of everything, especially your medical and dental records. You may qualify for service connected benefits as soon as you leave the service or medical issues that you had in the service may cause you to apply for benefits 20, 30 or 40 years later. It is always a good idea to have a copy of those records.

Don’t forget that your family will be transitioning with you. Make sure they are on the same page as you as far as planning for the future. Do you want to stay living in the same area or do you want to move back home or to some other city that you loved.

The bottom line is: transition can be stressful, but proper planning and thought can relieve some of that stress and make it a more pleasant experience.

by Chris Martin

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