How many of you are planning your exit strategy right now? You’ve got your donut of misery set up and you know the exact day, hour, and minute until you are finally free!! Free from enduring the suck, free from military pomp and circumstance, free from crazy-ass shifts, working in the freezing cold or the pouring rain, and all of the politics that comes with trying to make your way through the ranks, and your career. You are undoubtedly ready to control your destiny, when you come when you go, where you live, and all of the rest of the things that the military has decided for you over the years.
About twelve months ago this was me, I was done, ready to hang it up and start living my life somewhere else, on my own time and by my own rules. Fast forward to today, and I would give anything to unselect that button and be back in the fight with my team. I can honestly say since I retired I have wanted nothing more than to put the uniform back on and go to work. One word of caution, think long and hard before you pull the ripcord.
Honestly, my transition has run as smooth as it possibly could, I was approved for the skill bridge program, which if you aren’t aware of is a DoD program that allows retiring or separating members to complete a six-month internship as a PTDY. (More on that here, https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov/) The program has been awesome. I interviewed with a company, was selected for an internship, completed my internship, and was hired by the company to a permanent position. Like I said the transition couldn’t have gone any smoother, however, even though everything was falling into place, I was falling apart on the inside.
If you have ever disliked military culture, if you are like me, you will crave it when it is not there anymore. The leadership, friendships, and camaraderie in the corporate world are a far cry from what you have undoubtedly become accustomed to. I’m not saying people aren’t kind, or that I haven’t made good friendships, I just mean it is different. If you come from a small community or a tight nit unit, you, like me, will most likely feel like a fish out of water. Again, not bad, but something that you should be prepared for.
We all have to exit the service at some point, some will exit and never miss a beat, but some will exit and feel lost, out of place, and crave familiarity. The civilian job market is different, the people are different, that’s not a bad thing, but something you should definitely be cognizant of prior to jumping out into a whole new world. My advice, build a support system and hang on to your friends.
We talk about building a herd, creating a tight inner circle, and a support system. I can tell you that had I not had that in place, I would be in a world of hurt. Luckily, I have strong friendships, many right here inside the network, people that always have my best interest at heart and will provide support and guidance whenever it is needed, others that will forever be my brothers and sisters in uniform.
I’m excited for what the future holds, but I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t miss everything about my unit, my troops, and my military family. Whether you’re struggling with the decision, or in the ejection seat ready to pull the ripcord the very second you are eligible, remember, Every Warrior will be there to help you through the transition.