New Veteran? 5 Things You Need to Know to Assimilate back into Civilian Life

As you begin the process of transitioning out of active duty service and back into civilian life, it may feel like there is a lot of “hurry and wait” as you go through a Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to help you with the process and then wait for certain dates to pass before you can hit specific milestones. Whether you have been in for three years or 30 years, it can be a process of adjustment as you prepare for a life out of uniform, but the good news is that your military experience leaves you more than prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Your military experience can translate into civilian work. No matter what you did in the military or how long you served, you have skills that translate to the civilian workforce. If it seems like your job is very specific to the military service, then consider how to reframe some of your job requirements to suit the job you would like to have. For example, if you were an instructor in the Navy, no matter what you taught, you have leadership and teaching experience that required curriculum management. It can be helpful to work with someone to create a resume that is indicative of your skills and experience to maximize all you did in the military.
  2. You have time. You can begin the process of transitioning out of the military months before you actually leave, and if you prepare in advance, you can have a few months where you can work part-time or explore a few different employment options before you settle on what you want to do. If you have access to the GI Bill, you can improve your job skills in the months and years after discharge and set yourself up for success in civilian life. If you do not have access to the GI Bill, there are a number of scholarships and discounts available to you, especially if you begin your education before you leave service.
  3. The transition can be difficult for your family members as well. Transitioning out of the military is a huge change, not just for you but for your family as well. They may identify as a military spouse or military kid, be unsure about where to move next, or worried about leaving their job or school. Financial stress can add to the mix as well, as everyone tries to get set up in the next destination. Recognizing all that they are going through and helping them through it can help you to feel calmer as well.
  4. You won’t leave your problems behind. If you are currently struggling with chronic pain, drug and alcohol abuse, or mental health symptoms as a result of service, these things will not disappear with your uniform. It is important to get all your medical and mental health records together and prepare to connect with services in the civilian world so you can continue treatment for any or all of these issues.
  5. Support is available. If you are struggling as you leave military service with any aspect of the transition into civilian life, therapeutic services can help. Additionally, if you are living with substance use disorder and/or mental health issues, treatment is recommended to help you during this transitional time.

Do you need assistance as you make your transition from active duty into civilian life?

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