Are you getting ready to leave the armed forces?
Whether you have worked in the military for a few years or several decades, you may be feeling worried about re-entering the civilian world.
You are likely to have grown accustomed to the regimented routine of a military lifestyle and may not be sure how you are going to cope with the multitude of choices and decisions you will now have to make on your own.
How will you find a new job? Manage your own finances? Even just interact with non-military people on a daily basis?
You may also be concerned about how you will fit back into your circle of family and friends who have probably grown used to not having you around for long periods of time.
Of course, this is all completely normal, and the vast majority of veterans all have the same thoughts.
Fortunately, you will be pleased to hear that life doesn’t end after the army.
There are many exciting opportunities for ex-military members, both in terms of future employment and active roles within the local community.
Not sure where to even begin when you leave the army?
Keep reading to find out exactly what you need to do to plan a happy, healthy and prosperous life as a veteran.
Know your worth
You might be feeling that the army is all you know, and how could you possibly find a role in another industry? However, it would be best if you focused on all the highly sought-after skills that you would have acquired in the military. Hard skills in technology and computers, as well as soft skills such as communication, self-motivation, and the ability to lead a team.
Before you even start applying for jobs, you need to be confident in your abilities and be able to talk about all the skills and experience you gained while serving. One of the simplest ways to do this is by making a list of all your transferable skills.
For example, if you have a background in math or computer science, you should look into STEM careers for veterans. Or, if you trained other service members in weaponry, you could apply your experience to a corporate training program.
Other sectors that you may want to consider include humanitarian and aid work, emergency services, teaching, security, or physical training.
The most important thing to remember is that you have the skills and experience that many employers are crying out for. You just need to be willing to show them.
Assess your financial situation
While you may be tempted to bury your head in the sand, you need to fully assess your finances once you have left the military.
If you joined the army when you were very young, you may have very little or even no experience in budgeting and managing your money, and this could prove problematic.
The first step you need to take is to take a long and harsh look at the state of your current finances. See how much savings you have and find out how long you can manage without gaining employment and how much you will need to earn to fulfill the quality of life you aspire to.
If you have debts, do not ignore these and do not panic. There are several organizations that help veterans deal with debt, and they should be able to cap any interest, so you are only paying back what you owe at a manageable rate.
If you need to find somewhere to live or you need a car to get to work, there are also loan programs available for veterans that can help you get the essentials you need.
The VA (Veteran Affairs) guarantees loans from a private VA-approved lender like Capstone Direct (https://capstonedirect.com/resources/veteran-affairs-va-loan/). VA loans don’t have down payments, plus the department of VA promises to repay a portion of the loan, helping you financially.
Consider further education
As mentioned briefly before, there are many lucrative roles out there for veterans, but you may need to first increase your skillset.
If the thought of going back to the classroom brings you out in a cold sweat, you will be pleased to hear that there are lots of online degree programs that you can complete from the comfort of your own home.
You can choose to enroll in a full-time course if you are not yet in employment and you have sufficient savings, or you could opt for a part-time degree program that you could fit in around both your work and family commitments.
The beauty of an online degree is that you get to connect and engage with people from all over the world, which is perfect for ex-armed forces members. This also provides you with the perfect opportunity to network and to meet new people.
If your funds are a little low, it is also worth knowing that online courses tend to be more affordable than on-campus ones, and you will also save money on commuting and housing costs.
Take time to socialize
When you were serving in the armed forces, your work and social life were the same thing. However, now that you are a civilian, you are able to leave your work in the office (or whatever setting you work in) and enjoy a completely separate life outside of work.
While this is a good thing, you may struggle to meet new people, or you may feel isolated from the friends you had when growing up.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you are taking the time to spend time with your loved ones and unwind from the daily grind. If keeping an active social life doesn’t come naturally to you, you may want to think about joining a local group for veterans, or maybe you would prefer to start an evening class or volunteer?
There are many ways that you can meet new people and expand your horizons once you have left the military. You just need to be willing to look for them.
If you feel tempted to shut yourself off from the world around you, remember that having people around you is vital for your mental health and, if asked, your loved ones will be only too happy to help you overcome any issues you are struggling with.