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Time to Leave the Military? Guidelines for a Smoother Transition

A career in the military is full of challenges, but few are bigger than the ones you face when it is time to return to civilian life. Yet it is something that around 200,000 US servicemen and women do every year and as Prince Harry recently pointed out, there is a great support structure to help you make the transition smoothly.

Here, we look at some of the important topics relating to civilian life that are sure to be on your mind at this critical time. And we’ll also touch on some areas that you might not have thought about.

The world of work

The world really is your oyster when you have a military background. On the one hand, the skills and experience you acquired will put you in good stead in a number of careers out there.

Having said that, most military personnel are still under 40 when they return to civilian life. That’s plenty young enough to start a completely new career. Google “veteran job search” if you’re stuck about where to start.

Whichever path you choose, make yourself a regular visitor to the Veterans Affairs website. You’ll find help and advice relating to everything from choosing a career path to writing a resume to ace that job interview.

A roof over your head

Needs don’t get much more fundamental than this, and it is often a major concern, especially if you need to get on that first rung of the property ladder. Again, the VA can provide advice, but also check out the various online finance deals that are exclusively open to veterans.

Even if you already own a house, there are VA loan refinance options that allow you to borrow up to 100 percent of your home’s equity. That can come in exceptionally useful to cover expenses like renovations or perhaps buying a car at a time when money will inevitably be tight.

Knowing the unknowns

Almost 20 years ago, former Defense Secretary the late Donald Rumsfeld made his famous speech about known unknowns and unknown unknowns. When you leave the military, it is those unknown unknowns that can suddenly rear up and bite you unexpectedly. For example, it’s not till you crack a tooth biting an almond that you realize you need to find yourself a dentist and register there.

Taking time to think things through and at least be clear about knowing what you don’t know is an important step. Be aware that it will take time, and there will certainly be obstacles along the way.

But with support from the VA, your family, and most important of all, fellow veterans who have been there before you, you’ll negotiate this challenge as successfully as you met those that came before it during your military career.