This is the second part of a special two part blog series from United States Army veteran and Trident's National Director of Military and Veterans Alliances, Philip F. Johndrow. Come back to our blog tomorrow to see the final part of this blog. Read the first part here.
After you step back into the civilian world, after many years away, you may experience a myriad of different feelings, such as:
- Feeling uncomfortable with the lack of structure and goals compared to military life
- Longing for the adrenaline rush of physical and life-challenging situations
- Concern about finances due to the lack of job security
- A perfectionist attitude in work and other areas of life
- Annoyance at others who seem more easygoing or less detail-oriented than you
- Isolation or loneliness because others may not understand some of your military experiences
But like many of the challenges that you’ve faced in the past, these are some you can overcome by putting your mind to work. By making a plan and outlining the steps to navigate these challenges, you can have a successful military to civilian transition.
For starters, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way to helping you stay physically and mentally fit. This will be your key to success in challenging situations.
Do your best to excise the jargon from your conversations. We soldiers tend to speak our own language, peppered with acronyms, rank structure, and technical military terms that do not translate to the civilian world. The same goes for your resume and any cover letters that you prepare.
And don’t forget – each of you has a wealth of valuable, transferrable experience that you may not realize. The leadership, managerial, motivational, and logistical skills you developed while on active duty are highly desired by many employers.
Peers, mentors, family, friends, and agencies can all help you with this. Don’t just ask one person – ask many people. The wealth of viewpoints will serve you well in the future. Furthermore, after you make your transition, make yourself available to soldiers who are about to start their own transition.
Most importantly, I’ve found that education has been the most important asset that I was able to acquire while I was on active duty. When I started to make my own transition, having those degrees under my belt made things so much easier.
Finishing my master’s degree before I retired from the Army was the smartest thing I did to prepare myself to transition to corporate America. While some in the civilian world may not understand what a soldier does, they all understand the power of education.
Education will allow you to learn new skills, widen your perspective, promote innovation, and most importantly, help you apply those skills you picked up in the service to the corporate world.
At the end of the day, it’s not about who has the most powerful weapon, it’s about who knows how to use their weapon the best. Our minds are what make our military the powerful force that it is, with critical thinking skills that emphasize how to think rather than what to think. This is what leaders in the civilian world want.
As you prepare to make your transition, approach the process with a strategy, lots of enthusiasm, and plenty of confidence. Although it’s another challenge, it’s one that you can successfully overcome. Education and a positive attitude are the key elements you need in your toolkit.
If you’re currently taking classes, please keep at it. Education is not a tax on the present, but an investment in your future. If you are not willing to learn, then no one can help you – but if you are determined to learn, then no one can stop you.