In 2003, I left active duty in the U.S. Navy for good. My family needed me at home, and I was ready to take on my role as a husband and father - a completely different direction. Staying in the Reserves gave me the opportunity to continue serving my country and to stay in an environment that I’ve always enjoyed, both the good and the bad.
Enter: Day One.
What is “day one” you ask? It’s the very first day out of the active military life. For many of us, day one doesn’t hit you until you wake up.
It’s 8 a.m., and you just woke up and you’re not in the military anymore.
There is no plan of the day.
There’s a big difference between those who’ve done the preparation for that day and those who lack the preparation. However, the feelings you feel the next day do not change. Nothing prepares you for the reality that you’re not (insert rank here) - you’re now (insert name here) a.k.a. “The neighbor next door who just got out the military”. They may or may not care about your service, and this is a reality we all must face sooner or later.
So how can we prepare for day one better? Here are a few thoughts:
- Relax. Eat a good breakfast. Take a walk. Slowly introduce yourself again to the life you haven’t lived in a long time.
- Create your own “Plan of The Day”. You can never remove the habits you’ve developed, so incorporate them into your life gracefully.
- Accept family support. If you have a relative that has a business, or knows someone looking for work, go check it out! It’s not the final destination in your civilian career, but it’s a good start in getting re-acclimated to civilian life.
- Educate yourself. Veteran lives have improved somewhat over the years, but still could be better when it comes to health care. That process is going to need some patience. Prepare for it. Find out where you can get the best medical attention. Acquire the latest documentation on how to apply for your benefits, check the news websites on the latest job fairs for Veterans.
- Never think that you’re alone. Sites like RallyPoint are a great way to create fellowship with your brothers and sisters in and out of service.
- Your first day out of the military doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. Make the time in the uniform count for your time outside the uniform.
Ricky Allen serves as the Military Outreach Coordinator for Stratford University’s Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Glen Allen campuses.
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