Transitioning from military to civilian life won’t come without its challenges. One way you can start helping yourself prepare for this journey is to ask yourself some key questions. The earlier you can come up with the answers to these questions, the better you will be prepared for the transition from military to civilian life.
1. Do you have the initiative to become a transitioning veteran?
– Once a civilian, you will no longer be given orders, instead you will be in command for your own decisions in life. The earlier you begin to prepare, the greater the chances are that you will make a smooth transition.
2. Have you taken advantage of the Transition Assistance program?
-Although it’s not the only free program provided by the Federal government, it will be in your best interest to take advantage of this program which is geared to giving you the tools and knowledge to prepare for your civilian life.
3. Have you received and looked over your DD-214 for any errors, such as any medals you should have received, but may not be listed?
-I almost made a fatal mistake of not looking over my DD-214 which did not have my Air Expeditionary Medal listed. This medal enables you to receive even more benefits as a veteran, so be sure if you earned it, it is listed among any other medals you may have achieved.
4. Did you get a copy of your medical records, education transcripts and any other important documents?
-Very important to get a copy of every document you can. When it comes to receiving benefits, you want these documents in hand in case of any uncertainties.
5. Have you been saving money for your transition?
-The military will help with your move to your final destination, but don’t expect a going away gift to help get you off your feet as a civilian. Smart money management will greatly benefit you and your family in the coming months as a civilian.
6. Do you know what State you will begin civilian life?
-If you do, then start looking into State veteran’s benefits. Check out the Military.com State benefits page http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/state-veterans-benefits-directory.html New York State has the Veterans State Tuition Award which gives another lump sum of money to past and present veterans who received an Expeditionary Medal looking to attend college. http://www.hesc.ny.gov/content.nsf/SFC/Veterans_Tuition_Awards)
7. Thinking of attending college with your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits?
-Look into programs of study that may interest you, contact an admissions counselor, connect with a veterans group on campus for support, and have your military education transcript ready for possible life credits.
8. Where will you work?
-Starting early to research employment opportunities, networking in your field of interest, and getting a well written resume together will only increase your odds of having a job lined up the moment you separate.
9. Thought about collecting Unemployment benefits?
-I’m working with a veteran who will be separating from the military in June, never too early to start inquiring about how to apply for unemployment benefits that you deserve. While you wait for that job, or to begin college, unemployment benefits can help you and your family in the meantime. Be sure to contact your local Department of labor Veterans Rep. at an office near you http://www.careeronestop.org/ReEmployment/veterans/
–Thought about other benefits out there for veterans besides what the Veterans Affairs provides?
-Even with a long wait, it would still be beneficial to register with the VA. In addition, local Non-profit organizations are available to help veterans with disabilities, financial hardships, military families, and other transitioning issues.
When you separate from the military, you’re now part of the Veteran Family. Stay in touch with your military buddies and be a mentor to veterans in your community. Veterans helping veterans is crucial to helping those veterans struggling to adapt to civilian life. Don’t take your Transition for granted, plans can change in a flash, though if you have taken the necessary steps to prepare, you will be ready for change just like you were when entering boot camp as a civilian.