The Transition from Military to Civilian

Michael Anthony 2 Comments

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military civilianImagine being away for a long time, in a place that doesn’t even resemble the world you grew up in.  It used to be a feather pillow, jeans that fit just right and the smell of fresh cut grass that meant you were home.  Now you’ve dedicated yourself to being a soldier, bravely and lovingly protecting the place you call home from thousands of miles away. Hospital corners, camouflaged pants and the smell of smoking guns becomes your new norm.  What happens when your tour comes to an end and it’s time to trade in your combat gear for street clothes?  Will you be prepared? This life-changing transition of re-integrating into American society has the potential to knock even the most decorated soldier off his or her feet.

Planning Ahead

Transition planning is everything, especially coming back into a world that isn’t quite how you left it.  With unemployment rates high and an economy that has taken a hit, finding a job can be a much heftier mission that you might have originally anticipated.  Thus, financial planning for potential hardships when a soldier returns home is key in making the military to civilian transition as seamless as possible. To cover all bases, its best to make a three-fold monetary plan of action: prepare for deployment, ensure security for the duration of your tour and have an exit strategy in place, accounting for potential economic changes that might occur while deployed.

When creating your plan of action, it is important to take advantage of the military benefits available to you, like career counseling/placement and special investment vehicles. Seek out a recruiting firm that specializes in placing military personnel, meet with a representative to discuss your career interests, education and experience and keep in touch with the representative over the course of your tour.  Consider opening a thrift savings plan that can be managed for the duration of your deployment and thereafter, offering special tax advantages for military personnel saving for retirement. Start planning your return home 8-12 months in advance with your placement representative. They can act as a liaison between you and potential employers.

Integrating Back into Civilian Life

Many veterans experience waves of emotions when they are integrating back into civilian life such as fear, anxiety and frustration. Proper transitional planning will allow you to enjoy the experience of coming back home to your friends and family.  Minimize the negative emotions ahead of time through planning so when you reunite with your feather pillow, the jeans that fit just right, and the familiar smell of fresh cut grass, you can exhale and do so with a smile.

Jeffery Sterner writes and blogs about personal financial well-being and issues that influence it for Debt.org, America’s Debt Help Organization.

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

Comments 2

  1. Paul

    It’s not too long before my unit returns to the states, and for the past few months I’ve been looking to purchase a car, move to a different state, the amount of money I’ll have when I get back, a place for my new home of record, and what job/career I can get my hands in. The time spent searching and planning is few and far between when one has a constantly hectic workflow, difficult bosses, and has to dedicate much of their time to an academic class on the side. A deployment is not easy, and dealing with the transition back home is not a cake walk. Friends, business connections, family, pets if any, and plenty of rest are all paramount to a sound mind and body coming back from overseas. The people and activities you sacrifice for a year are missed and may seem like a distant memory, but getting familiar with them again make the tour that much bearable. On deployment, you really do cherish the little things the majority of people take for granted.

  2. Ian Porterfield

    I am a civilian. If I were transitioning into a military life, I would require the leadership, mentorship and coaching of a successful person in the military. Adversely, a vet transitioning into the civilian world requires the leadership, mentorship and coaching of a successful person in the civilian world. This is where I come in. Ianporterfield.com is determined to help as many vets transition into the civilian world as possible. How? By helping them gain a better understanding of WHO they are as people vs. soldiers and teaching them how to share that through the interview and relationship process. #reinventingwarriors #whoareyou #finditshareit

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