One year ago, I was entering the final year of my career in the military. I knew in my heart it was time to wrap things up and make my way onto a new adventure. I had enjoyed my last 21 years in the Army, but my body and mind, and my family, were ready for the transition. But was I READY??? I hope some of my realizations learned over this last year can help other service men and women transitioning themselves. It will require a significant shift in thinking to successfully navigate this journey
No one is going to do the work for you to prepare for transition, it’s on you! Sure there is a mandatory retirement training program required by every service member before you can out-process, but it
will not answer all your questions. They are geared in generalities. As a matter of fact I came out of it with more questions than answers. Resources were provided as well as points of contact, but make no mistake, it is on you solely to follow up. The best advice I was given during this period was to build a countdown calendar and to fill it with every milestone that you have to hit during the transition (and track it carefully).
Obtaining your medical records is a long process. I have a few service connected medical issues that will require care for the rest of my life. The VA process, as explained in our retirement briefs, seemed long and arduous. I served for a considerable time in an area that had limited military medical facilities, so a good portion of my records were located in civilian hospitals. Collecting your records early is crucial to your success in documenting all of your ailments that you will claim for disability. You need to dedicate time well in advance of your exit physical to collect these records and ensure that you have the pieces to support your claims. Break your documents out by each condition; it will make your process so much easier. I also highly recommend getting a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) to back you during your process, they will make sure you are taken care of.
My next concern was health care for my family. We are used to getting all of our medical and dental services provided as service members for our family and us. There was never really much thought about anything other than making appointments and hoping that they didn’t take too long to get. Now we must decide what health care plan we want to keep, and pay premiums for annually. Then what service are we going to use for dental since that plan does not continue over to your dependents after retirement. It all takes research and time, and it really paid off for me to seek out friends or colleagues that had recently separated to see what they have found a best for their families. Be sure you find someone with a similar situation to you regarding family needs; the same plan is not going to work for everyone. Again this is dependent on you being vigilant and asking questions about each available plan.
The financial choices to make are endless and will continue to need adjustments even after the day you transition. What levels of insurance to take, how to maintain an investment or savings plan, keeping a survivor benefit plan for your spouse so they are able to continue to receive your pension payments should you pass before they do. These are all critical decisions to ensure a secure future for your family. Again to keep my sanity I sought out advice from the financial counselor offered during my transition courses and also advice from those who had preceded me out of the service to fully understand what the pay and benefits would look like after my retirement. So many things changed and what I was used to receiving for the last twenty plus years were not going to be there in full anymore. It has been my biggest points of concern because it is not something I am used to dealing with. With that realization comes the biggest worry of all…
What am I going to do for a job when I retire from the Army? This is the question I found myself asking in my head over and over for the last year. Transitioning from the life and only career I have known for the past 22 years was not going to be easy. As if my head wasn’t spinning enough from the questions I was addressing previously in this blog, I had to find the next source of livelihood for my family, and try to figure out where I would fit best in the civilian world. It might as well be exploring outer space for me because I just didn’t know how things worked in the civilian employment process. What do I want to do, what do I want to be, what will bring me job satisfaction? And what do I have to do to get it? These are just some of the things that I was thinking about and had my insides tied up in knots. I was even questioning if I choose the right time to exit the Army. After all it was the place that provided income and stability for my family and I for the last two decades. Am I right to move on? I don’t even know what I am doing.
The prospect of seeking my new career after the Army had me reading information from tons of resources, websites, blogs, and publications. I was chasing a never-ending flow of information that purported to send me in the right direction for starting the next chapter in life. Without a doubt the most important piece to future success would be having a resume that captured the successes of my military career to gain me an entryway for a job interview. For anyone currently in this situation, you know exactly what I am talking about. Receiving a lot of “what to do’s” with not much advice beyond it. It can be a helpless feeling. I know I felt it, even with the vast amount of experiences and successes I had from my military career.
I feel very fortunate for the fact that I have been able to come on board to work here at GuideOn. I can now be a part of the solution for veterans that are struggling on their way out of the military to get a professional resume that civilian recruiters and employers can read and understand. I can help alleviate the same concerns in others I had just months ago. The fact that we have dedicated professionals with the sole purpose of providing our nation's vets a free service to give them a quality resume gives me an immense feeling of job satisfaction. Not only that, we will then work with the veteran when the resume is complete to be hired with companies we are working with that are committed to hiring vets. We have a team of both veterans and family members and other patriotic professionals that are committed to making the transition process a successful one for any transitioning service person who signs up with us.
I hope that the veterans that are reading this are encouraged to use our services and also able take charge of their transition out of the military to make it successful and a little less stressful. You deserve to get ahead and that’s what we are committed to doing for you, putting you ahead. A custom-made resume created for you in just a short amount of time. We have done the research for you and use cutting edge technology to give you an end product you will truly be amazed by. Yes it really is that easy!
I look forward to being one of the people that help you find the next career that will have you living happy and fulfilled.
GuideOn, Behavioral Scientist Researcher
Wayne retired this fall from the Army after 21+ years of military service. Wayne received his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1998, and was branched Military Police, after serving 4 years enlisted time, also as an MP. He deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Kosovo for Operation Joint Guardian, to Egypt for Operation Bright Star, and also served in Germany and Korea. MAJ Ludwig deployed his troops to operations as a platoon leader and to combat as a company commander. MAJ Ludwig also served a year in Iraq as an Operations Officer on a Transition Team training the Iraqi Federal Police Force. His awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, seven Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals, the Airborne Badge, and Air Assault Badge. As a member of the GuideOn Research team, he focused on translating the military skills of transitioning veterans to a civilian resume to better enable them in securing a civilian job.