No matter how much planning you do in advance it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed, stressed, or even nervous about getting out of the military. Your thoughts have probably ranged from what am I going to do next? Where am I going to live? Will I make enough money to live comfortably? All these are valid questions and thoughts.
The best thing you can do is start planning early. You need to understand your benefits and the resources available to help you make a smooth transition. Luckily there are an abundance of resources that can help set you and your family up for success. I recently got a better understanding of the following resources and I found them to be so helpful.
USO Pathfinder®Transition Program
This program helps active duty, Reserve, National Guard, and military spouses by offering professional development services throughout the duration of military service as well as in preparation for life post-military.
I was not familiar with the program so I decided to check it out. I navigated through the website and decided to connect with a USO Transition Specialist. I will admit I was pleasantly surprised. After answering a few questions I received an email within the hour informing me that I had been assigned a dedicated specialist. We scheduled a one-on-one meeting to discuss my needs, concerns, and goals. Following the session, I had a customized action plan that could be accessed through the USO mobile app.
The USO Pathfinder® website and program are great resources. You have the ability to sign up for classes for resume writing and navigating the VA home loan among many other topics. More information can be found at https://www.uso.org/programs/uso-pathfinder-transition-program.
Military OneSource provides comprehensive non-medical counseling support and information to service members and their families on every aspect of military life including deployment, finances, reunion, relationships, grief, spouse employment, education, parenting, and childcare.
As a military member, I have personally used Military OneSource for years. Now that I am in the process of transitioning; I am finding even more resources through their website that are helpful. They offer a lot for spouses such as The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot, a competitive multi-year program that provides spouses with paid 12-week fellowships at employers across various industries and locations. They also provide online courses designed for military spouses to cover all of the ways LinkedIn can be a great tool for networking, showcasing experience, searching for new opportunities, and more. Additional information can be found at: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/.
DoD Skillbridge Program
The DoD SkillBridge program is an opportunity for Service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
Service members can be granted up to 180 days of permissive duty to focus solely on training full-time with approved industry partners after the unit commander provides written authorization and approval. These industry partners offer real-world training and work experience in in-demand fields of work while having the opportunity to evaluate the Service member’s suitability for the work. To find SkillBridge locations and authorized organizations be sure to visit https://skillbridge.osd.mil/program-overview.htm.
These are just a few resources available to you. If you are planning to separate or retire from the military; I would highly recommend visiting your installations Readiness Center as a starting point. Don’t forget to check with your financial institutions as well. Many banks like USAA® and Navy Federal Credit Union offer financial checklists and financial wellness assessments.
Remember it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about transitioning from the military but planning ahead and utilizing all available resources can definitely help take some of the stress away.