May 24, 2017, by Veronica Wright – Years ago, an older relative of mine made the decision to retire from the Army after 22 years – far earlier than the military mandatory retirement age. He did not make this decision lightly, and he planned for it two years in advance. During those two years, he went back to school and got his Master’s in business with an emphasis on human resources management. The caveat was that the Army paid his tuition costs during that two years. When he did retire, he was far more marketable on the civilian economy and was also collecting his retirement pension. His transition from military to civilian life was virtually struggle-free.
Making You Own Transition Struggle Free
There are several considerations.
1. First, of course will be separation/retirement income
What does Retired Military Mean for You?
Today, retiring after 20 years, or even separating before that, may mean different things, given the military’s new retirement plan, scheduled to go into effect in 2018. Current career military personnel will have the option to keep the old retirement system, but all new military will be under the new system – a combination of a lower retirement amount but the addition of a personal retirement account to which the government will contribute at least 1% and up to 4% of salaries. So, retirement pay for Army or any other military services will be undergoing transition over the next 18 months.
Is military retirement taxable?
The short answer is yes. However, a disability pension and other benefits may only be partially or not taxable at all.
2. Challenges of Civilian Life
You are used to having a very structured life. Moving back into a civilian environment, especially if you are not moving directly into a job, can feel strange. From no alarm clock in the morning to having more downtime, can be a bit un-nerving. If you have begun a job search but do not yet have an offer, consider filling some of your time with volunteer work. It’s a nice past-time and you will feel that you are providing real value to others.
3. The Job Search
There are three aspects to beginning a job search:
- Research what employers want. If, for example, you were in an IT role in the service, what specific skills did you master that will be valuable to civilian employers? If your job related to logistics, what skills do you have that are being sought in that career field? Do the research, and if you discover that you need to return to school, do so.
- Check out the GI education benefits that were instituted following 9/11 and find out which ones apply to you. If you served for at least three years or have any kind of disability, tuition will be free, along with a small housing allowance.
- Put together the best job search materials that you can. Getting with a professional at this point, such as those working for Resumes Center, will be an important step. There are specialists who work only with military personnel in their transitions. They will be able to translate your skills to civilian “language,” leaving out the military jargon, etc.
- Another great resource for you is O*NET Online. Here, you can type in the job title that you had in the service and pull up civilian career positions that will be matched. You can find this source at . This will help your search, and then you can use a resume service to craft the ideal documents.
Connections and References
Your past supervisors in the service will make great references, so be sure to stay in contact with them once you separate. And use social media. Establishing a LinkedIn profile will be an ideal start. Ask your resume professional about help writing one for you.
Making that transition to civilian life is not without its challenges. With family and friends for support, however, along with good information, career search resources/assistance, you will be able to translate your service-related skills to the civilian world, get more education if you need it, and be on your way to a new successful career. One final tip: if you are geographically mobile, check out ; for a listing of the best states for military retirement.