Hey there everyone! About a week ago Natalie Giammanco, a blogger for the Military Family Network at Veterans United, contacted me about writing a blog post about transitioning from Army life to Civilian life. Of course I jumped at the chance to learn more myself and publish the information for my readers.
Starting a New Chapter
The Big Transition -- Tips and Thoughts
So, I thought I’d share a couple of tips and tricks for transitioning from an Army-focused life to a civilian life.
Starting with welcoming home our soldiers, our veterans, our family...
Do what you know will make them feel “at home.” If that’s having certain items in the house just the way they left them or making sure certain friends are there to greet your loved one, do that. And for you who are just full of excitement (and really, who isn’t?) don’t forget, it’s easy to get carried away. If everything isn’t picture perfect, don’t worry. Well, unless of course you’re taking pictures :) But seriously, you don’t want to overwhelm them. So my advice, simple comforts will make all the difference.
Start making the transition before you’re picking your solider up at the airport. Talk with your spouse beforehand, and make a plan. There are a few reasons for that, especially if your spouse will be coming for home for good. This means that you will have the option to plan more long term when it comes to where you are going to live. Now that you will be able to choose your location of your home, you may also choose if you are going to rent, buy or build.
While we’re on the house note, quick thought. Don’t forget to research VA loans. Many veterans and spouses may not realize how easy it is to qualify for assistance. Here’s a site that might help you out a bit: The VA Home Loan Process.
Accept that these pre- and post-Army are two different chapters. You might not know everything about every memory your soldier has from their time away. And you may continue to find out more and more now that you’re together again. But remember the transition marks a new chapter. Log the last part, never forget it, refer back to it. But always be thinking about what you’re going to write on the next page. The memories you’re going to make.
And how about a giving your veteran a big hug too? Never hurts :)
If you or your veteran is having some trouble making the transition, and there’s the chance this could be challenging, I know there are VA Services in place to help. To some, there’s a stigma with this type of help. But hey, it’s there for a reason. For you, if you choose.
Also, you might check out the Transition Assistance Program for some more in depth advice on this stuff.
The next, maybe scariest thing to think about it the transition into a civilian job. We all know the job market is a little crazy right now, and we’ve heard horror stories of vets not finding work right away. However, recently there is new hope for veterans finding jobs with many companies, big and small, pledging to hire veterans.
Like my transition point, don’t wait. Start the job search process before returning home. One, because it will take pressure off of the “coming home” transition. Two, it might actually determine where “home” will be. If an opportunity presents itself somewhere new, well, the military move will pay for relocation.
Rework your resume. And this is something you can help with at home. Veterans have many valuable skills and abilities that are attractive on a resume; including, leadership experience, ability to adapt to new situations, and ability to work under pressure. Take a look at your soldier's resume. Talk to them, and decide how best to “civilianize” it. While military lingo works for the two of you, you can help point out where it might be best to more clearly explain.
Be bold. This is important for you, your veteran and your family. Make sure it’s a job that works, not just one that’s there. Also, be confident in your skills. How does the time in the military apply to a future job?
Of course, the job thing will be a little more up to your loved one. Just make sure to be supportive and helpful where you can. The main thing is to be supportive toward your spouse, regardless of their decision and if you agree with it. This time of transition can be challenging so it is important to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible!
If you have any other suggestions or thoughts, please share. I’d love to hear from people who are preparing for the transition or have already gone through it. Good luck and congrats on having your soldier back!
Natalie Giammanco is a blogger for the Military Family Network at Veterans United, the nation’s leading provider in VA approved home loans.