September 2, 2015, by D.M. McCauley – Few career paths are as rewarding and satisfying as deciding to serve in one of the time-honored branches of the U.S. Military. That service filled many of us with a sense of purpose, duty, and honor. There we were taught responsibility and reverence toward those highest ideals of honor, courage, and commitment.
When that time in the service ends, many veterans are left wondering what comes next. Many more search for another role that offers the same meaning and purpose.
How do we serve after our service is over?
That answer doesn’t come easily, yet many veterans have filled the void by utilizing their skills and talents within their communities. Volunteer firefighting, teaching firearm safety, and even coaching youth soccer are all things I have tried my hand at. No matter your skillset or interests, there is a place to make a difference in your community.
There are three ways in particular that I will focus on today:
Whether you’re an Army Avionic Mechanic, Air Force Fire Protection Specialist, Marine Corps Pilot, or a brand new Seaman Recruit, many of us have been trained to fight fires. It’s vitally important to the mission and it saves lives.
The core principals of that training don’t change from service to civilian. If the recent Idaho Wildfires are any indication, the Forest Service and our local Fire Departments can use all the help they can get.
Not all positions have to include a front-row seat to a building-turned-inferno. As a volunteer firefighter, you can also share your knowledge by teaching others proper fire prevention methods in their homes, workplaces, and schools. In your down time you’ll hone your firefighting methods, practice operational procedures, and refine first aid techniques.
You can find more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter here.
The Healer’s Art
Hospital Corpsman, nurses, combat medics, and doctors all possess life-saving and valuable skills and traits. Whether you served as an operating room technician, preventative medicine, or participated in transporting the wounded, you have something unique to offer. Nearly all of these roles expose you to handling sensitive patient medical information and administering emergency care as a first responder. Your combined technical and medical experience are an asset as institutions like Bradley University seek to further integrate the two.
Some medical staff positions may require further education and certification, but opportunities to volunteer are plentiful. HM1 Rob Sanford utilized his Hospital Corpsman training by volunteering to teach at the Idaho State Correctional Institution while simultaneously pursuing his certifications. He later joined their medical staff full time, providing preventative and compassionate care to the inmates.
If you want to pursue a role in the medical field, you can find more information here.
To Protect and Serve
For the MPs and Masters-at-Arms out there, I’m sure you’ll feel right at home. You have diligently protected your shipmates and battle buddies, and now the call of duty leads you to the home front. Practiced discipline, honed martial skills, and a desire to protect and serve are all qualities that can lend themselves well to Law Enforcement.
Even without a previous Law Enforcement specific MOS or Rate, you have still received training that lends itself well to the profession. You have demonstrated your attention to detail and commitment to duty. Everyone from the mightiest Drill Sergeant to the lowliest PFC has stood watch, participated in roving security patrols, and maintained a log book.
Local campuses and cities will often seek prior-service veterans for large public events like a 4th of July Parade. Federal agencies also look favorably upon prior service, and you will receive a handy hiring preference.
If a role in Law Enforcement sounds interesting, find more information here.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.
Photo Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released