25 August 2014

You're Out of the Military, Now What?

It finally arrives: your last day in the military. No matter what your reasons, you’ve been counting down the weeks, hours, and minutes.  You’ve gone through the transitional programs of your respective branch of service. You’re patting down the hair because you’re not going to cut it any time soon after you get out. It’s a rite of passage back into the civilian sector for you. 

So what’s next? 

This is where service members get stuck. People don’t think about the next day. For years you’ve been in a routine and now you can make your own schedule again. Others have never been at this point because they joined the military after high school. 

Welcome to the world of culture shock, and it’s not a fun place to be. If you’re combatting this area of confusion and wonder, it’s time to stop, sit down, and figure out what’s next. Here are a few ideas:

Get involved in a community organization: Find a local gym, get plugged into some classes.  Other ideas can include the local YMCA, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and faith-based organizations.  

Check online for public events: Check websites for deals on events from group painting to zombie runs (because I’m a Walking Dead fan). It’s also a good idea to check Craigslist and the local newspaper for any free city events.

Education: Thought about going back to school? Go visit some local universities in your area and consider higher education. If you’re going to do something, why not invest long term for future benefits? Not that education is just an “activity.” However, you can get your degree while meeting a new community you wouldn’t know otherwise. 

Veteran representatives at your local employment commission: If you’re leaving the military unemployed, this should be your first stop. They can help you with your resume, helping you to transfer your military experience into civilian language. Let’s face it, there’s a distinct difference. 

While there are several great ideas of what to do when you separate from the military. Remember: Good or bad, you served your country. Maybe you weren’t a “lifer,” but your time should be remembered and respected. Also, keep in mind that your service can help you in college. Be sure to make every training session count and hopefully transfer to credits. Don’t ignore it out of bitterness. You could be hurting your future.

Weigh in on discussions on transitioning here and connect within the military community.

*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

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