Transitioning out of the military, be it after an eight year enlistment or retiring with twenty-plus years’ service under your belt, is a huge step. You aren’t merely stepping away from a job, but a job that is built within an entire unique community.
Finding your way to a new normal in the civilian world can be daunting, and there is a seemingly endless list of things you have to do to officially say you’re “out” of the military. Thankfully, there is an abundance of support services and benefits available to help you navigate this life change.
Separation and Retirement Services for Military
Aside from being a period of monumental shift in your life, finding your place in the civilian world can be very busy, and therefore stressful. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Here are some ways service members can make this time easier by being sure to save a good amount of terminal leave:
If you’re happy to remain in the area of your final posting, you could use the extra leave to take a well-earned vacation.
You might want to make the transitional process a more pleasant experience by completing it on a part time schedule.
Perhaps you’re moving across country, in which case you’ll need time to coordinate with movers and realtors, interview for jobs, or find the right school for your children to transfer to.
If you’d prefer to put it all in the rear view mirror in the shortest fashion, there is also an option to “sell back” your remaining leave.
Last Paid Move
The government will foot the bill for one final move at the end of your career. For service members will less than 8 years of service, this will only cover the cost it would take to move you to your home of record (HOR) or your Place Entering Active Duty (PLEAD). For service members with more than 8 years of service or retirees, the government will cover the cost of a move to your HOR, or any home of selection (HOS) within the United States.
Mentoring is an indispensable asset during the shift to civilian life. What could be more helpful than a touchstone who has been through everything you’re going through before, or has led countless others in your shoes down the same path?
Military Spouse Transition Program (MySTeP)
MySTeP is a program from Military OneSource, designed to help spouses adapt to, thrive within, and transition out of military life. They call the latter event “Stepping Beyond”, and offer these resources to help the transitioning military spouse:
One-on-One Education & Employment Support with a Career Coach
Information on things like High-Growth, In-Demand, & Flexible Careers
Help Finding Child Care
Tips for Building a Social Support Network
Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
Most active duty military members are likely to have heard about TAP, as completion of the program is a mandatory part of separation.The TAP is divided into five parts:
Initial Counseling (IC)
In this individualized, one-on-one counseling—the official first step in the transition process—the service member completes a self-assessment and builds their Individual Transition Plan around personal goals and needs.
This briefing, which must be scheduled no fewer than 90 days before separation, is a refresher course on the myriad of benefits, entitlements, and resources due to you as a transitioning service member.
DoD Transition Day
(includes briefs from Veteran Affairs and the Department of Labor)
This stage of the TAP process includes completing training modules on resiliency, activities designed to translate military skills to opportunities in the civilian sector, and financial planning. There is an additional brief covering VA benefits and services, such as housing, health care options, and disability compensation. A brief from The Department of Labor gives information on preparing for employment in the civilian world.
Specialized Career Tracks
To aid them in achieving their post-transition goals, service members are offered a series of tracks, or workshops, over the course of two days in employment, vocation, education, and small business administration.
This step is a review of your TAP accomplishments and verification of DoD career readiness standards.
Note: There is some variation between branches, so find your service specific program here for more detailed information:
Marissa Fuller is a freelance writer and editor with a degree in Creative Writing and Classical Civilizations from the University of Arizona. She can be found translating Shakespeare into Ancient Greek in the English countryside, where she is currently stationed with her Airman and their faithful hound.