Adjusting from military to civilian life can be a challenge, and in a poll, one in four veterans said that it was difficult, according to Pew Research Center. Change has never been easy, but transitioning to civilian life can be complex for someone who has been in the military. For many retired servicemen and women, applying military experience in regular jobs seems like an uphill battle. Others have a hard time reconnecting with family and friends and joining community groups. After separating from military service, it’s possible that you may worry about your mental health and general wellbeing. It’s also natural to think about veterans’ medical bills and other expenses. But regardless of how difficult the transition might seem, there are things you can do to make the switch successful. Below are some easy and practical tips for transitioning to civilian life after military service.
1. Be Prepared For A Challenge
As a service member, you’re used to working to ensure you and your team stay safe. So, it’s natural to feel aimless and clueless about applying military experience in civilian life. That’s because the typical civilian life doesn’t involve the need for one to switch to survival mode. Plus, you don’t have to worry about military duties or daily risks. Naturally, your mind and body will need time to process that you’re no longer on active duty. With this in mind, it’s advisable to anticipate everyday struggles that veterans encounter after leaving active duty. When you anticipate a financial, work-related, familial, or social challenge, preparing for it becomes easy. One way to make your transition from military to civilian life easier is by having a strong support system, seeking treatment, and focusing on therapy.
2. Know The Nature Of Your Transition Process
The challenges you’ll face when readjusting to a civilian lifestyle depend a lot on the nature of your transition process. In most cases, service members who separate or retire from stateside military bases have a less stressful experience with fundamental changes like employment, housing, and transportation. On the other hand, those who have their out-processing done at overseas bases face many obstacles in finding job opportunities and housing.
One way to ease your adjustment period is by applying for a temporary duty assignment (TDY) if you’re retiring or separating from a stateside base. A TDY allows you to search for housing while still on active duty. One of the benefits of getting TDY orders is that the military funds your house hunting expenses. If you’re based in an overseas location, a TDY might not work for you. So, you may want to apply for leave to go house hunting before completing out-processing at the base.
3. Familiarize Yourself With Housing Options
Many veterans are at high risk of becoming homeless when transitioning from the defense forces to civilian life. Nonetheless, you can avoid being homeless by weighing your housing options. First, determine if you’ll be renting an apartment or purchasing a home. Then, seek housing assistance for veterans from the department of veteran affairs or other organizations committed to helping retired military personnel adjust to civilian housing. Whether you intend to purchase a home, rent, or need housing support due to disabilities, the Department of Veteran Affairs offers plenty of housing benefits to service members and veterans. These benefits include VA home loans, rental assistance, and housing grants for veterans living with disabilities.
If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ll want to consider a VA mortgage program. The best thing about VA home loans is that they require zero down payment. However, before you can take full advantage of VA housing loans, you must be eligible. This means you must meet the credit score requirement and the ability to repay the loan in full. Once you have proven eligibility, review your finances and find reliable lenders. The best VA mortgage lenders have a good history working with veterans and offer reasonable interest rates. Nonetheless, take time to compare loan rates using the heroloan.com mortgage calculator or similar tool. A mortgage calculator will help you determine accurate monthly payment rates, interest rates, and timelines without much hassle.
4. Seek Help From Transition Assistance Initiatives
Adjusting to civilian social life, going on a job hunt, and understanding civilian life, in general, shouldn’t be a process you engage in alone. As a veteran, you’re entitled to unlimited help from the department of veteran affairs through TAP (transition assistance program). TAP is designed to help veterans adjust from active duty to civilian life through training. The lessons provided in TAP highlight the struggles service members face after service and how to handle them. You may also want to take advantage of employee assistance programs for veterans when searching for employment. These programs provide job training to help you navigate the employment process.
5. Consider Therapy
Besides getting help from government-assisted programs, consider family counseling. As a veteran, it’s important to understand that adjusting to a civilian lifestyle doesn’t affect you only. Your loved ones also go through a hard time trying to figure out how they can help you. While sometimes veterans act as if everything is fine, this is always far from the truth. Many veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health disorders. Others also indulge in substance abuse to cope with the change.
These issues can be devastating for you and your family because all you want is a smooth transition from active duty to a normal lifestyle. For this reason, commit time to attend family counseling sessions in one of the veteran-centered facilities available in your state. Family therapy can be beneficial as it helps you and your loved ones create an environment for support, foster two-way conversations, recognize substance abuse, and identify mental health disorders. Generally, family counseling sessions allow veterans and their loved ones to work together to make the transition period easier.
Active duty in the military affects one’s life, especially when transitioning to civilian life. When you retire or separate from service, you’ll face challenges reconnecting with family members, re-entering civilian employment, and socializing. However, you can readjust to a normal lifestyle without difficulty if you follow the right step. First, be ready for a challenge and plan well in advance how to approach potential issues. Next, understand the nature of your transition, determine your housing options, and utilize government-assisted programs. Also, consider family therapy to ensure you and your loved ones adjust to civilian life successfully.