The Military Transition Strategy No One Tells You About

How to Get Out of the Military and Be Successful

Raising your right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States is the first chapter of your story as a service member. But how the journey ends is just as important. Think about the movies that begin with the end to reel you in. Consider the emails that have a free download at the end to spark your interest in receiving more content. See where I’m going here? The end is just as significant as the beginning. This is the military transition strategy no one mentions – to begin with the end in mind. 

Begin With the End in Mind

The transition back into the civilian world is already difficult on its own. Without planning for the end, you’re traveling around Earth like a pawn waiting to be moved one square at a time on the chess board called life.

It’s hard to tell where you’re going if you don’t have direction. How would you feel if you were traveling on a road to nowhere? Or, what if you didn’t have your trusty navigation system or Google Map to keep you on track?

You feel lost, right?

The same feeling applies when you don’t establish intentions for where you want to go after the military. But when you begin with the end first, you can control the narrative of your destiny.

Don’t Wait for the Transition Assistance Programs

Let’s face it, no one stays in the military forever. At some point everyone, including that high ranking officer that you admire, will be discharged from the military either through retirement, a result of military force shaping, or completion of contract obligation.

No matter whether you’re in the military for 4 years or 30 years, you will experience a period of transition that can take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being.

The 1-year transition timeframe established by the military transition assistance program (TAP) is not enough to build a solid foundation for planning your entire life after serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

This is why it’s important to know the end goal, so you can have a variety of options on your own terms.

Envision the Life You Want After the Military

How to Get Out of the Military and Be Successful

The only way to get the life you want after the military is to create it. You can start by asking yourself this question: What do I want my life to look like after the military?

Maybe having a family is on your agenda. Perhaps you’d like to work at a major corporation that affords you the opportunity to travel. It’s quite possible that you desire to start your own business afterwards. 

Whatever your vision is for your life after the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard, you can have it.

And, the best way to see where you’re headed is to visualize it.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

– Helen Keller

Act on your vision by writing it down so you can see it and track your progress. This is your way of creating a military exit strategy plan, much like companies develop a business plan. 

Make sure your vision and exit plan includes the following aspects of life:

  • Financial
  • Career
  • Entertainment
  • Health and fitness
  • Personal goals
  • Relationships and
  • Community work, such as giving back

As you write the vision, don’t be afraid to use pictures and timelines. Some people use vision boards to clearly identify the things they want in life.

Writing the vision ensures that your goals, dreams, and aspirations for your life after military service are front and center each day.

Plan Now. Don’t Wait.

How to Get Out of the Military and Be Successful

Planning for the end now is your way of saying checkmate when the time arrives for you to leave.

When you have a clear roadmap of where you’re headed in the end, you’ll be ready for the inevitable to happen.

No matter where you are in your military career, you must remember that it will come to an end. It’s important to take time to plan now. This means doing the following:

  • Becoming financially literate. Save at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses. Who knows how long you’ll be searching for a job after leaving the military. Don’t believe that unemployment will last forever, or that it will add up to your salary.

Finally, don’t plan on making large purchases such as a home or car after your transition. Hold off on those purchases until after you’ve settled into your transition and your chosen place of employment.

  • Taking advantage of educational benefits. Yes, the military is a means to an end. You should work on obtaining degrees, certifications, and licenses.

 Use the GI Bill and tuition assistance to earn educational qualifications while you’re on active duty. Doing so will put you far ahead of the competition.

  • Seeking career advice. A career development expert can teach you how to write a resume the right way. And, when you work with a career professional who has walked in your shoes of being a military veteran, you’ll get great insight as to why veterans make the best employees.

Additionally, you and your chosen career specialist can conduct mock interviews, guide you on how to prepare for a civilian interview and give amazing tips on how to successfully change careers post-military transition.

Finally, here is where you can discover how to approach networking and creating the best support system for yourself. You should also use LinkedIn to expand your professional network base outside of the military. Most times, finding a job after transitioning is all about who you know.

And, believe it or not, putting yourself out there and mingling with other people with common interests is necessary. Because once you’ve separated from the military you will experience an identity crisis. 

  • Solving Your Identity Crisis Before It Starts. What most veterans are too afraid to admit is that the toughest part of the transition is losing your identity and being a part of something bigger than yourself.

Women veterans struggle with rekindling and nurturing relationships once they are back in the civilian world.

So, while you may say that you won’t miss the military, deep down in your heart you will begin to long for certain aspects of being in the service.

You should look into joining like-minded groups and organizations to help ease the burden of the identity crisis when the time comes.

Transitioning out of the military is never easy, but you can create a life of happiness by beginning your military career with the end in mind.

It’s never too early to begin bringing your vision for post-military service to the forefront. After all, your future life and future career depends on it.

No matter where you are in your military career, you can count on Empire Resume to help with your career development needs. 

We can help you write a military to civilian resume, and build a LinkedIn profile so you can begin connecting with the people who will be your support system, even out of uniform.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

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