Veteran’s Perspective

Dear Transitioning Veteran

By Jean Ibañez Payne
Yeoman – United States Navy
TI Verbatim Consulting (TIVC) – CEO and Founder

Transitioning to the civilian world from military service can cause a variety of emotions; excitement, nervousness, and even fear. While our military leaders are very good at providing checklists about the practical things you will need to do to prepare for separation or retirement, I wanted to share a few tips on the emotional aspect of leaving military service. Maintaining an emotional balance during this time will make getting through the practical “to-do” lists much less stressful.

Practice gratitude and give yourself grace: The military world may have left you with a few mental bumps and bruises. Do not be ashamed to ask for mental help, many of us coming out of the military need it. Take time either by yourself or with loved ones to celebrate your military successes and all the amazing things you accomplished. This comes in different ways: intentionally spending time with others to talk about what you have accomplished, journaling, coaching, meditating, or exercising are helpful.

Start planning early: Optimize all the resources that are available to you. Ensure that you coordinate all your final medical appointments and that the military healthcare professional document your complete medical history. For whatever reason, your medical record may not include an injury or experience that occurred earlier in your career; make sure it is documented before you separate or retire. This will be critical later in life when those earlier experiences manifest themselves and you require medical care. Getting this right will translate into less emotional stress later in life!

Assess your skillset: You may wonder how your military skills align with the civilian world. Take time with a military transition specialist or a local community college counselor to help you translate your military skills to civilian skills. The value of this exercise is you will discover there are career fields open to you that you may have not considered.

Know your worth: The civilian world needs you more than you need them. Your leadership skills and character traits are encountered far less frequently in the civilian world than while you were in uniform. Because the future can be daunting, you may be tempted to take the first job that comes along. Your worth as a military Veteran means finding the right job is worth the wait.

Seek employers that are Veteran ready and not just Veteran friendly; meaning, being Veteran ready means that we may have special needs, such as medical appointments, in the workplace. Relatedly, any military medical healthcare benefits you enjoy are actually cost savings to prospective employers, especially if an employer does not have to provide healthcare insurance.

Enjoy the journey: One of the best things about transitioning to the civilian world will be that you have different options and that you are in control. What attire you wear to work, how long you stay at a particular job, and for the most part, deployments will be optional!

Wishing you the best of luck on the amazing journey you are about to embark on.

Jean Ibañez Payne is a corporate leader in communications, marketing, diversity, inclusion, language translation, and interpretation. While Jean has spent considerable time in the corporate world, her passion has always been helping others with language needs and increasing awareness and efforts around Diversity and Inclusion.