6 Veteran Tips for Transitioning to Civilian Life

Serving the country as a soldier is one of the noblest deeds a person can do. But, there always comes a time when you must say goodbye to the military.

Perhaps you think you did your duty, and now it’s time to forge your own path. Maybe you have other commitments you wish to devote yourself to. Regardless of your reason, you made up your mind and want to transition from military to civilian life.

Unfortunately, transitioning is rarely an easy process. Civilian life is so different from being a member of the armed forces that many vets have no idea where to start or what to do. To help you out, here are some valuable tips that might help ex-military personnel adjust to ordinary life and make it easier.

Join a Veteran Organization

If you’re having trouble getting used to civilian life, it would be best to surround yourself with people who have been in the same situation. These people understand what you’re going through and will be more than happy to give you advice or just chat about good old times.

Veterans organizations are a great way of finding new friends, building connections, and sharing experiences. Many organizations host events you can participate in, be it golf tournaments, bowling leagues, or good old barbecue parties.

Veteran organizations can also help you find your new calling. For example, you may still want to protect the interests of your country even though you’re no longer a soldier, so you’re thinking about becoming a politician. Joining an organization promoting veteran leadership can help you get the necessary support and make your dream come true.

Talk With Your Loved Ones

Being in the army usually means you’re rarely around, which is something your loved ones had to adapt to over the years of your service. Unfortunately, it also might mean that you grew apart from one another.

Now that you’re a civilian again, it’s time to catch up with your family and friends. Talk with them and try to get closer to one another. Forge these relationships into something that brings you all joy, not stress or regret.

If you’re having trouble opening up to your loved ones, try the small things first. Take your kids to the park, go out on a date with your partner, or get together with your best friends for coffee or beer. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

If you still have trouble talking things through, consider seeking counseling services to help you deal with any emotional issues you might be experiencing. Putting your feelings into words can often be the first step towards a better relationship with those you care about the most.

Get a Degree

While you may have had an excellent career as a soldier, civilian life is different. Many employers prefer candidates with at least some level of formal education. So, getting a degree might give you a significant advantage in the job market if you already don’t have one.

Before making the decision, you should check out your GI Bill benefits. Many soldiers are eligible for financial support to help them pay for their higher education. Probably the best place to start learning more about the kind of support you can expect is through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Once you understand your situation a bit better, you should consider your degree. Although military life is vastly different from day-to-day civilian experience, it teaches you many practical skills that you can use in numerous fields.

For example, you might want to polish your technical know-how by getting a degree in engineering if you spent some time as a mechanic while serving your country. Alternatively, if you were an NCO, you most likely know a thing or two about proper leadership. That knowledge could be advantageous in getting a Bachelor of Business Administration and, later on, a Master of Business Administration.

Nevertheless, although expanding your existing skillset is undoubtedly useful, it is by no means necessary. Always think about your goals, ambitions, and aspirations first. Find a path you’re passionate about, not just one that appears to be the most marketable.

Search for Veteran-Friendly Employers

Many companies appreciate veterans because they know how to handle stress, are great at teamwork, and possess excellent problem-solving skills. You might be surprised by how many veteran-friendly employers there are out there. To find the right job for you, consider using veteran-oriented job boards or Google to find offers in your city or state.

If you’re having trouble finding something suitable, contact a professional placement business specializing in helping veterans get jobs. They usually have a great network of companies that are more than happy to hire veterans and will help you match your skills with the right employer.

Consider Developing a Routine

Contrary to active duty military personnel, civilians often don’t have a strict routine to govern their lives. This newfound freedom can be confusing for many veterans and may cause quite a lot of stress.

If left unchecked, that stress might lead to anxiety or even depression. Setting up some sort of a routine can help put you back in a comfort zone. There is no single correct approach to this — you must find it independently.

Perhaps you can start by creating a list of things you want to do daily. For example, always go to your local gym after work and dedicate the rest of your free time to focusing on your personal projects. Or maybe you can put your discipline to good use and use your free time to volunteer to help others every few days.

Yet, while trying to stick to your daily goals is admirable, remember not to overdo it. If you see that your routine creates friction between you and your loved ones or that it’s just not working out, do not be afraid to make some changes. Routines may be great, but you’re a human being, not a robot.

Use LinkedIn to Your Advantage

LinkedIn is one of the most popular job-oriented networks in the world. It allows you to connect with other professionals, learn about companies and job offers, and much more.

If you’re not using LinkedIn, it’s time to change that. Start by creating your profile and connecting with your colleagues and friends. Once you have a decent network, consider reaching out to others you might find interesting or helpful. You can also join groups related to your field or use the platform’s search engine to find interesting articles and discussions.

As a US military veteran, you’re eligible for a free one-year Premium Career subscription. It is an excellent opportunity to hone your skills even more, as you’ll get access to over 15,000 online learning courses conducted by experts.

The Bottom Line

Transitioning from military to civilian life is doable. With enough effort and patience you’ll get there.

Still, you have to consider many things when making this transition, and the ones above are only some of the most important. With time you will learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t. Remember that you’re not alone in this — many others have been through the same thing or are simply willing to help.

The most important thing is not to give up and keep moving forward. If earlier generations of soldiers could adapt to the chaos of civvie life, so can you. Good luck!