You have undoubtedly learned discipline, acquired managerial skills and perhaps a trade but those marketable skills don’t help you with the details of transitioning from service.
The regimented military lifestyle is easy to acclimate to. The early mornings are awful but the day-to-day grind is manageable. The regimentation of our daily lives breeds a bit of comfort and a lot of complacency. When the structure of military life disappears, life will be stressful. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Master Sergeant, Lance Corporal or an Airman. The stress of transitioning spares no one.
Military life provides us with a sense of comfort that is easy to overlook. This extends beyond food, clothes, getting paid every 2 weeks and having a place to live. Each day you are told where to be, and when to be there. For the most part, we know what to expect in the coming months whether it be training, deployment or administrative tasks. This changes dramatically when you are about to transition.
Everything is an unknown. Do I need a job? How can I start college? How do I pay for college? Am I entitled to VA benefits? How do I file a VA claim?
If you are planning to make it on your own without the aid of parents or a spouse, you have an uphill battle. Military life has created an expectation that we think someone is going to tell us exactly how to take this next step. After all, they’ve told us how to do everything up to this point.
Once a service member notifies their chain of command that they intend to separate responses can vary. It is safe to assume that if a service member is not contributing to the war fighting mission of the unit, the unit will not allocate resources just to help them transition. This is more the rule than the exception. If you are about to separate I would prepare for your chain of command to be obstructive or completely indifferent. You need to be prepared to do the research on VA benefits, GI Bill, Voc Rehab etc. Small unit leaders and career planners will not offer much insight to the transition process. They will go as far as asking “have you attended the transition course?”. That is the extent of assistance I would expect. I hope this is not your experience but if history serves us well, it’s what you should expect.
You need to know that you are not alone when you transition out of the service. Zero Nexxus exists to offer insight and guidance on how to create a personalized approach to separating from active duty. Our goal is to create a structured and informed transition for you.