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How to Transition to Civilian Life – A Guide for Veterans

Transitioning from a life in the military to life as a civilian often comes with a steep learning curve. Serving in the military means that you’ve experienced a totally different way of life, which most people will never fully understand, and it can be difficult to feel at home as former military personnel. If you’re a veteran struggling to adjust to your new life as a civilian, here is a guide to help you make that transition easier.

Reach Out to Friends and Family

When you’re in the military, your peers and those in your immediate circle are all experiencing the same things as you. Once you transition to civilian life, however, this is not the case, and it can be hard to relate to people—even the people you’re closest to.

Many ex-military personnel find it hard to reconnect with friends and loved ones, but it’s important to reach out and start open conversations about your situation. Being honest about your experience in the military and how you’re finding civilian life is a great way to reconnect with the people you care about. 

Take Steps to Find a Job

An important part of life is feeling fulfilled in what you’re doing, so take steps to find a job that you enjoy. Think about what career you might want now, and look for military-friendly employers and companies. 

Look online for help on writing a resume that highlights your military experience. Try to avoid too much military jargon here, as civilians won’t understand military acronyms or abbreviations.

Go Back to School

Another option when you’re transitioning to civilian life is to go back to college. Many universities and institutions now offer degree courses specifically aimed at veterans, with additional support available.

Certain careers require additional qualifications, and going back to school is a great way to get your foot in the door and create a network. If you are a veteran looking for your MBA, click here.

Create Structure

Life in the military is full of structure, and that structure is usually dictated to you by your superior officers. Many veterans find that the lack of structure in day-to-day civilian life is a big adjustment, so consider setting yourself a daily routine to follow to ease the transition process. This could mean:

  • Waking up at the same time every day
  • Eating meals at set times
  • Exercising on a daily basis
  • Working set hours

Figure out a routine that works for you in the beginning, but remember that you don’t have to stick to it forever; just use it to help your transition.

Ask for Support

Probably the most important step in transitioning to civilian life is recognizing if and when you need help and not being afraid to ask for it. The U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs offers a transition assistance program (TAP) to help the process, but if this isn’t enough, you can always reach out for additional support.

If your mental health is suffering, talk to a doctor. If you’re struggling to find a job, talk to a friend or a mentor to see how they can help. If you’re finding it hard to reconnect with family members, talk to a counselor.

Remember: you don’t have to go through it alone.

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