Transitioning out of the military is never easy. Whether it be finding a job or applying for college, there’s always something to worry about. However, if you plan your separation from the service well, everything will fall into place sooner than you realize.
Here are three tips on planning your discharge from the military service:
Go to school
Many service members join the military in order to take advantage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which not only pays most, if not all, of your tuition for college, but also gives you a housing allowance. But a more efficient way to prepare for civilian life is to take advantage of tuition assistance programs. Service members can have a large portion of their college tuition paid for by the military while still in uniform. This allows you to save as much of your G.I. Bill as possible for your post-military career.
Furthermore, many jobs in the military have special schools that provide many of the same certifications that civilian employers need. Be sure to volunteer for these schools when your commands make them available. If they aren’t available, then express your interest in the training you are seeking.
By taking advantage of the education provided by the military while still on active duty, you are setting the foundation for your future. Thanks to the Navy’s Tuition Assistance (TA) program, I was able to complete most of my bachelor’s degree and earn an information systems certification, which eventually helped me land a job. Don’t take these opportunities for granted.
Be ready to stay where you are
I made a critical mistake when I separated from the military: I moved from Washington, D.C., to Columbus, Ohio, which meant that I abandoned most of the jobs for which I was qualified. Columbus had jobs available, but they didn’t value my military experience like employers in Washington, D.C., would have.
If you are dead set on moving after you get out of military, then at least be proactive in your job search. I didn’t understand the Columbus job market prior to my separation from the military. If I had been working hard to research the area in the six months leading up to my discharge, then I would have had a much better chance of finding a job.
Use the military’s separation assistance programs
Many service members struggle when transitioning to civilian life. When I couldn’t find a job in Columbus, I fell into a deep depression for more than a year. Part of my problem was that I felt a lack of purpose or direction. I woke up every day for nine years knowing my mission, but when I separated from the military, that was all gone.
The service offers multiple programs to help you prepare for civilian life, including counseling and resume assistance. Use these resources. Life would have been much better for me if I’d taken the time to attend the various seminars the military offered me.
Separating from the service can be difficult. However, if you take advantage of the military’s educational and transition assistance programs, your return to the civilian life will be much easier.