Have you been in the military for a number of years? Are you concerned about how a transition is going to work?
It is natural to not know what civilian life is going to be like. What are things going to cost? Where are you going to live? What do you want your life to even look like?
I have heard stories from so many people who transitioned and said it was hard to find a job that connected with their skills from the military. Not only was it hard to find a practical fit, it was even harder to find something they actually wanted to do and that would be a good fit for their entire family.
Have you recently gotten married, maybe you have a small family already to think about, or you are single wondering how to create the life that you want after the military?
Young families and transitioning services members often have a hard time with the transition itself. Things are more expensive in civilian life than they previously anticipated. In addition, it’s difficult to create a working budget when you don’t even know what your future expenses are going to be. How can you plan for the unexpected in order to make sure that your family is secure?
Can you relate? Are you worried about how it is going to come together? Or are you working on blind faith but don’t really have a plan?
I’ve been where you’re standing now. When I got out of the military I had 3 young kids and I did not really know my next steps. In the end the transition did bring my wife and I together but not without some initial anxiety about what the future was going to hold. Civilian life is completely different. In the military we were used to a life where we knew the next step from week to week and even year to year. Although we would have wars and would have to relocate every now and then, we at least knew how the system worked and felt confident inside this familiar system. We were comfortable with what we knew. When it came time to make the decision to not reenlist, my family was left without a clear plan for the first time.
I have talked to so many transition veterans that had the same anxiety I did. Some were able to create a plan that supported themselves and their family, while others completely lost themselves in the process and sacrificed time, money, the well-being of their relationship, and their personal happiness.
The first difficulty I faced (that so many others in transition also face) is what to do about employment. It can feel like everything is being uprooted and you are starting from square one. I had done some schooling in the military, but I was not confident that my skills from the military would be enough to find a job that supported my family. I also wasn’t entirely sure I could find something I wanted to do.
One step that transformed my transition experience was networking. I reached out to recruiters and job coaches who supported me to be prepared for success outside of the military in a career that truly aligned with what was important to me.
I started networking with other transitioning military men and women that had a similar story. I connected with others who had young families and challenges transferring their military skills to civilian life. In addition, I also connected with families who weren’t sure if they wanted to live in the geographic area of their last base, or if they wanted to move back to “home.” As I networked I learned that plenty of other people were in the same boat as me. I started to learn the importance of connecting and networking with others. I traveled across the country to meet with a couple possible employers which changed the trajectory of my transition.
The second problem I faced (that so many others also face) is that I didn’t know how my job skills from the military could transfer to the civilian world. I could guess what employers wanted, but honestly I felt like I really did know. It wasn’t until I got help transferring the military jargon of what I did to civilian language that I could start to see possibilities for getting a job. When I saw on paper the value I could bring to my next employer, everything started to shift. I could see things more clearly, my stress went down, and the transition started to feel smoother. I didn’t realize the transition would be much more attainable for our family and my spouse when I was confident in this stage of the transition. We made the decision to relocate to a new area, knowing I could provide massive value to my new employer, and it was near a military base where we could still use the transition services to support me and my family.
The third obstacle that made my transition harder than it needed to be, was that I had thought employers didn’t want to hire someone from the military. Actually, I found that most employers out there are military friendly, whether someone is totally out of the military or still in the reserves. Through my research and interviews I have found that some of the hard skills needed in a job were not transferable to the civilian world but the soft skills of loyalty, commitment, and getting the job done were unmatched to people that have not been in the military. These companies value these soft skills and know they can teach people the hard skills far more easily than they can teach loyalty and commitment.
Once we made the transition, my wife was able to find something that complimented her career path, and together we made this leap forward. It was a great step forward for our family and relationship.
When you have a successful transition, it will make your family stronger. You can do this for the good of your family, your relationship, and yourself. My wife and I grew stronger because of the successful transition. It allowed all our needs to be met.
When you make the decisions that benefit your family, not only is it honorable, you do know that in the long run everyone will be happier. It is honorable to get the support required to know how a successful transition can happen easily and effortlessly. I would love to support you in a strategic and successful transition. I have over 20 years of coaching veterans how to transition to the civilian life.
Kevin Tucker is CEO of Service Transitions and has been trained by The Coaches Training Institute. A professional coach since 2004, Kevin has produced unprecedented breakthrough results with a wide spectrum of clients across the country. He is a 20-year career veteran with the U.S. Air Force and now serves as a veteran advocate. He can be reached at https://servicetransitions.org/contact-us/ .