Returning to the classroom

  • Finding a civilian job after you have decided to get out of the military can be tough, especially learning how to translate the work you have done in the military into civilian terminology. One of the biggest issues service members face is being able to shift from military jargon and language to civilian terminology and language. This can be a difficult part of the transition for so many because many service members joined right out of high school and their only professional career has been their military service. Being able to translate all of your military experience is vital for what type of job you are able to land after you decide to exit the service.

    This is why it is so pivotal for service members to be offered transitional career services to assist them in being able to be re-introduced to the civilian workforce and help with rewriting resumes and interview techniques. With so many service members having issues with reintegration when they decide to separate, many branches of the service have stepped up and started to provide these services. Many veteran support organizations provide courses to assist veterans in their transition, this course usually encompasses career support, resume writing assistance, interviewing assistance, and other assistance. These programs have helped so many service members successfully re-create a stellar resume and learn vital interview tactics, that allow them to land a job immediately after exiting the military.

    Many of these Transistance Assistance Programs (TAP) are provided by the VA, state veteran organizations, and veteran non-profit organizations to decrease the burden associated with the military to civilian transition. The good news is that service members have the ability to utilize these programs as many times as they need, and many of these programs are also available for the service members’ spouses as well. These programs also offer different career fairs to ensure the transitioning service member has every opportunity for re-employment after they exit the military. Another great tools that can assist veterans with finding re-employment, is that some government jobs give preference to previous service members and their spouses. There are so many of these organizations that provide these services free of charge to ensure all service members can be re-employed, and can smoothly transition to the civilian workforce.

    The Beginning of My transition

  • Many service members deal with anxiety and stress associated with the worries of transitioning out of the military. The thought of the unknown, not being able to control what the future may hold. Leaving what many have had as their only source of stability their entire lives, or since they joined straight out of high school. Whatever the personalized reason is for each service member, it all yields the same results with them not knowing how to deal with these feelings.

    In most cases, over time these stressors will go away after the service member has successfully transitioned out of the military and established their new life as a civilian. On the other hand, this stress can ignite mental health challenges in service members who already suffer from PTSD. Many service members may suffer from PTSD which can be attributed to a traumatic event that happened while in combat, or during their time in service. For so many, symptoms of PTSD don’t manifest in the service member until they have completely separated from the military, and are no longer in that environment anymore.

    For all service members transitioning out of the military, it is very important that you establish your healthcare providers once you have moved and settled into your new home. Whether it be your local VA or a civilian medical provider, it is vital that you have a primary care provider that can refer you to a counselor or mental health specialist that can assist you in the stressors that come with transitioning. They can also help you recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD or transition stressors and provide you with the appropriate care. Taking care of your mental health is the first step towards living a productive new civilian life. Please like, comment, or share my blog post.

    The Beginning of My transition

  • For many service members transitioning out of the military, financial stability is the first topic of concern when putting together a plan for a successful transition. For whatever reason that service member chooses to get out of the military, they are walking away from a stable income and having to start over. For some, they try and coordinate efforts to line up a job, and housing, and ensure steady income before exiting the military. Still, even with a set plan, it is still difficult to fully transition without some form of financial burden.

    Some of the things that many service members don’t consider when transitioning are that many don’t have to pay for housing, healthcare, transportation, and other resources that are generally provided as a benefit for military members. Although many service members have exit strategies in place, there is still a shift in the cost associated with many of these benefits that they haven’t had to pay for their entire time in the military. Some members save money to accommodate for their transition out, but with many that still can be stressful if that money is enough to get you to your new destination and provide for you and your family until you can find stable work. Others have struggled with budgeting their money and fall into financial trouble, after having their monthly bills increase once they are no longer in the service.

    To assist in helping veterans navigate these issues, there are many transition assistance programs that have been implemented and are provided by the different branches of the military, state veterans organizations, and Department of Veterans Affairs. Helping veterans properly plan for the inevitable can help them plan for a smoother transition, and allow them to implement a financial transition plan. Many organizations have created Financial Planning for Transition classes that are free of charge, and will sit down with the service member and help them establish a budget, set financial goals, evaluate cost of living changes, and much more. With all of these programs emerging, we need to ensure our service members are being provided all of the resources they need for a smooth transition back to civilian life.

    The Beginning of My transition

  • The term, “embrace the suck”, is one that service members know very well, it is literally the motto of all the branches of the armed forces. You are taught very quickly in the military that the mission comes first, and every thing else comes second, learning how to manage your time for your family and hobbies becomes a balancing act. Not having time to give to your family is one thing, but we are taught to sacrifice for our needs as well. This mentality of the job coming first, creates a complex that if you have any issues that pulls you away from your job, you become a burden to your team/unit.

    With many service members devoting many hours to their jobs when they are on active duty, working unusual work hours, and missing many holidays and birthdays due to the needs of the military to maintain coverage on your job and continue the mission. This standard is upheld across all branches, and it makes it difficult for people to take time off let alone ensure you are staying healthy and up-to-date with your medical appointments and being seen by your medical providers when needed. Many service members will have medical issues, or get hurt during training and not follow up with their medical provider from fear of having to take time off, or needing drastic medical attention and having to take substantial time away from work. In most cases, service members do not report all medical issues and will continue to work making some medical issues worst due to lack of attention to the issue.

    Sometimes this mentality will carry over into the civilian world when service members transition out of the military, and it becomes difficult to change this mindset especially for service members who have spent majority of their lives not prioritizing their health and wellness. Many service members feeling the need to continue to, “embrace the suck”, even after they are no longer working everyday as a service member. What many service members find out is those years of sacrificing their health and wellness, to put the mission before themselves has left them with untreated healthcare issues that start to botheer them once they have transitioned out of the service. This is why it is pivotal that service members are offered the benefits they have earned when they depart the military, majority of which are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    It is very important that service members that have transitioned out of the military are made aware of all of the benefits and resources available to them, whether it be local, state, or federal the benefits available they have earned and can help them in a smoother transition to civilian life. Teaching our service members to take care of themselves and not everyone else is the least we can do for our veterans who have selflessly answered the call in putting our country before themselves, whether it was for 4 years or 30. The Department of Veterans Affairs as well as many states have veteran organizations that prioritize connecting our veterans with those resources and benefits they have earned. Learning to stop, “embracing the suck”, and prioritizing your health and wellness is a huge shift but can help that veteran in redefining their new life and taking control.

    “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. American will never forget their sacrifies.” – President Harry Truman

    The Beginning of My transition

  • At the completion of my first semester at UNR, the veteran center had become the place that made me feel comfortable about my decision to become a full-time student. Although there were student veterans there that served in all branches, the familiarity of the feeling of camaraderie was enough to keep me coming back for more. It was a cure for all the feelings of uncertainty and not belonging, that I felt when I first began classes on campus. They provided a space where I could be myself, and I didn’t have to explain my way of thinking or humor because everyone else around me was relatable and understood.

    At the beginning of my second semester on campus, one of the coordinators at UNR veteran services ask me if I would be interested in becoming a work-study for their department. At first, the thought of it seemed a bit silly, considering I was commuting from Fallon, NV every day to go to school and the pay for the position was not enough to put food on the table, to say the least. What made me consider it was the thought of the struggles I faced during my transition to this new civilian life, and how I could help someone just like me navigate that journey successfully. Being the person I am, I decided to apply for this position, and I was accepted and started my second semester on campus as a UNR veteran services work-study.

    What I learned from my time as a work-study was much more impactful to my successful transition than I could see at the time in the position. My job at the veteran center was to be the first engagement with students, whether it was participating in intellectual conversations or connecting student veterans to resources and assisting them in understanding their benefits, our purpose was to serve student veterans during their transitional journey. Seeing the need to help, and wanting to maximize the number of student veterans we assisted, I became the president of the Wolf Pack Veterans club on campus. My goal in taking this position was to find student veterans on campus that did not engage with the different programs we offered, and encourage them to utilize us as a resource or even a place to just come hang out; this was done by throwing social events, bringing important resources to the center to hold informational sessions, and encouraging student veterans to prioritize their mental and physical well-being.

    I served as the president of WPV and a work-study for UNR veteran services for a little under two years. What I realized was that being able to redefine my community was so pivotal to my transition. When service members have to PCS to a new duty station it becomes a huge adjustment for both the member and their families. Their spouse has to find new jobs, kids have to change schools, and the entire family has to adapt to their new community. This doesn’t stop being important when you exit the military, veterans need to be able to create or find a new social community when they reacclimate to civilian life. Being a part of that community can be the difference for that veterans success in their transition. In what ways can you assist a veteran in their transition to civilian life? Please like my blog or leave a comment responding to my question.

    The Beginning of My transition

  • When I decided to become a full-time student at UNR after transitioning out of the service, I did not give much thought to how difficult it would be to adjust to being a student on campus. I hadn’t been a full-time college student for at least 10 years, and so much had changed since I was a young vibrant 18-year-old. My expectations of what school would be like, and the reality were quite different from each other. I quickly discovered that I did not fit in with other students, which made me feel alone and isolated.

    The majority of the students in my classes were first- or second-year students, with which I had little to nothing in common other than similar degree programs. I didn’t think I would have an issue fitting in with the students, but I was more different from them than I realized. Not only was I older than the average student and married with kids, but being a veteran made me feel like an alien amongst my peers and I definitely didn’t feel like I belonged in these classrooms. Because I was dealing with these feelings, I was very withdrawn in my classes, not talking to anyone and trying to remain unseen until the end of class, and would go sit in my car until my next class.

    One day I gained the courage to find the Veteran’s center on-campus, this was a space I learned about in my veteran services orientation but wasn’t sure if I was ready to be around a bunch of veterans, because I wasn’t sure that I would fit in with them either. During my first experience in the veteran center, I was quiet and found the furthest corner to sit and do my homework, although the staff was very cordial they were not pushy and allowed me the space and time to do homework or engage in conversation if I chose to. The most important part about the center was that I felt normal, I felt like I belonged, and I felt like I was around like-minded individuals; these were the opposite feelings that I was experiencing in my classes. After being able to utilize the veteran center for the remainder of the semester, I gained confidence as a student veteran that I originally did not have. The environment established at the veteran center provided me the support and space that I needed to assist me in redefining who I was as a civilian and a student veteran.

    Many colleges and universities promote themselves to be veteran-friendly, and able to accept VA school benefits. The problem with some of these schools is that they may have an administrative person who knows how to process the veteran’s school benefits and cover their tuition, but no supportive programs to assist that veteran in their transition. Establishing programs for student veterans at colleges and universities is pivotal for the success of the veteran, many of these students are dealing with drastic changes in their life that can become very overwhelming especially if they have families and other responsibilities outside of school. Student veterans are unique in that they are experienced adults, that are on missions to redefine themselves, and they should be given respect as such. Ensuring we put programs and support systems in place for our student veterans to become successful is important, these men and women served our country and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    The Beginning of My transition

  • For so many people, their careers are how they define themselves, and how they become relatable to their peers. We live in a society where most individuals are so engulfed with their careers, that their identity is wrapped up in their work and they can’t describe themselves without bringing up their jobs. I like so many others suffered from this when I transitioned out of the Navy into the civilian world. The thought of not being able to identify as a military police officer was terrifying, and the struggle to understand who I would be after this long chapter of my life would come to a close. My efforts to maintain some sense of financial security for my family involved taking a dead-end job, that I worked for two weeks and realized that it wasn’t for me. I was at my wit’s end and felt very hopeless, so as a last resort I was invited to attend an info session at UNR about their veteran’s services department, and the benefits I had available to attend school. Not only did they explain all of the different education benefits that I was entitled to, but they provided me with a sense of comfort and relatability at this time in my transition. Their staff was highly trained and equipped to assist veterans who had recently transitioned out of the military, to find their new way, and redefine themselves. This was what provided me the tools and support to productively transition from military life to civilian life, but for so many service members they are not equipped to deal with these struggles, and sometimes the consequences can be catastrophic.

    The connection and need for belonging is something that many service members struggle with when they leave the service. Many people find themselves lost, and lacking a sense of purpose in life. Most service members don’t realize their need for this until they don’t have it anymore, and not properly dealing with these emotions can trigger feelings of loneliness and rejection. The importance of finding the proper support system when you transition out of the military is crucial for success, no matter how prepared you think you are for the transition, there will be things that arise that can be very difficult handling alone.

    “Ask for help, not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong”

    -Les Brown-

    The Beginning of My transition