Getting out of the military is a scary thing, no doubt about it. When you really think about it, while serving, we were taken care of, in a sense. We were given three hots and a cot (some were stuck with the DEFAC and you have my sympathies. BAH mutha fucka!) told where to go, what to do, and what time to be there. Thinking was done for us, to an extent. We couldn’t fail unless it pertained to something that was out of our control, i.e. mission, training, or S-1 jacking up our promotion paperwork. We were paid on the 1st and the 15th of every month, and we knew how much we would be making which enabled us to do bills accurately.
Now fast forward to the scene of you standing on the grass, your PC tilted back, and the crisp feel of that freshly printed DD-214 in your hand. What now? You’re done. No more steady paycheck. No more three hots and a cot. What’s your next step?
Here are some tips that I hope help newly separated military members have an easier transition back into the real world. Kind of sounds like a con fresh out of prison when you really think about it (insert laugh face emoji).
- GET YOUR EDUCATION! Yes, while serving you need to get your degree, but not just a degree, a degree in something relevant! No, gender studies isn’t going to cut it. You need to be marketable. Having a degree in something that won’t land you a good paying job is time wasted studying in something that you’re just wasting your time at. Don’t have time? Bullshit, MAKE time! Schools like AMU are wonderful at working around a military member’s schedule. Deployed? Have internet access and a computer? NO EXCUSE! I managed to knock out my associates while serving as a drill sergeant. the hours there were the longest I’d ever put in, but for 30 minutes a day, I’d knock out some school and study.
- HAVE A PLAN! Don’t get out and say you’re just going to wing it. That NEVER works out. You need to have a plan of attack before separating; be it a job, college, or starting your own company (I wouldn’t advise that being you need something guaranteed vs unsure income.) If you have a job interview, make sure you have three of them lined up. If you’re going to college, make sure you have everything ready to go so that the day you step foot back into the free world, you already have your mission accomplished regarding school acceptance and attendance.
- HAVE A BACK UP PLAN! GOTWA. How many of you remember that acronym? I’d explain it to you but I want YOU to look it up so that you’re more than likely to remember it. It was our five point contingency plan that we used in case shit went south, and often times it did! USE a GOTWA! If plan A fails, what’s plan B? If plan B fails, what’s plan C? You think I’m joking, but I’m not. I’m dead serious. Have back up plans.
- STAY OFF DRUGS! Yes, I’m sounding like the DARE to keep kids off of drugs middle aged guidance counselor trying to sound hip to a bunch of dumb ass teenagers who only want to go play pokemon go or some shit, but you get what I’m saying. Drugs won’t do you any good. You don’t have the money for it, and you certainly don’t have the time for it.
- SAVE YOUR MONEY! From here on out, you don’t have any guaranteed income which means you need to be saving as much as you possible can. Business 101: if you don’t need it, don’t fucking buy it. No, you don’t need the new playstation system with the build in walkie talkie and projection screen that makes it seem like you’re actually there! That money can be better spent on something you truly need, like bills or gas money.
- PROFESSIONALISM. Yea, I’m not one to talk on this one because I was fortunate enough o start my own business, but had I went in to interview with anyone, the cussing would stop and I would act as if I were back at the board talking to my sergeant major. I’d be respectful, courteous, and not overly aggressive.
- GET YOUR FAT ASS TO THE GYM! Now why would I say that? Because many veterans are dealing with demons once they get out. While in the service, they eat like shit and drink like fish, but they also do PT to burn it all off. Those same vets get out and the eating and drinking habits continue, and guess what’s the first thing that isn’t done anymore? Yup, physical training. Vet gets out, vet keeps eating like shit, vet gets fat, and vet gets depressed and adds just one more thing to the crap he’s fighting in his head. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY, and it will take care of you.
There you have it. Just some tips that I hope help you newly transitioning military members out. Take it as gospel because honestly, nobody cares about what you did in the military. Those college kids that we made fun of while serving for not having the balls to serve, well they have a leg up on you now because they have their education. You’re behind the power curve, unless you have your degree already and a good head on your shoulders.