Captain Nathan B Nelson is a friend and my guest writer today. Nathan is a retired Captain from the United States Air Force who continues to serve the Active duty military and veteran community through government and nonprofit organizations. I’m beyond honored to have Captain Nathan Nelson whom is immeasurably respected by all that knows him filling in for me today. This is an informative read for all veterans leaving the military.
For many veterans, leaving Navy active duty service is a welcomed idea. For many of us, hopping on the magic carpet ride of the lucrative civilian job market seems like a great future. We envision easily outperforming regular civilians based on our experiencing enduring of extreme environments and situations.
Whether you just finished a four-year service commitment, got out as an NCO or CGO, just crossed the threshold of the 20-year retirement mark, or the military encouraged you out kicking and screaming, the post-military Navy afterlife is something that you are going to have to prepare for. Many of the benefits that come with active duty military service create a sense of security and ease that may not be readily available in the civilian world. There are certain things you will have to consider when planning for your post-military life. Three of the most important considerations I will discuss this article.
1. Finding Employment Be Proactive!
Employment is probably one of the biggest considerations when determining where you are going to live after you leave the Navy. For many veterans, one of the best options tends to be in the local area around the base they left. A favorable military community, proximity to active-duty friends, and a smattering of businesses that serve the military mission make these areas a good choice. Your military experience will be easily translated into whatever work you decide to do since these employers prefer to hire veterans.
However, if you decide to move away from a military community, expect the employers may not have ever worked with veterans, and may not intuitively know how your experience will translate to value for the company.
- It is going to be incumbent on you to translate your responsibilities and experience in the military effectively into a resume in order to articulate the unique skill set you can bring to a business.
Leadership, integrity, teamwork, commitment to the mission, loyalty, are all attributes you possessed from military service that will be selling points for a future employer.
2. Planning Your All-Important Healthcare Be Prepared!
Access to healthcare is another important consideration for where you decide to live after you leave active duty. Due to the hardships and strains of military service, it is highly likely that you will require some degree of consistent health care immediately after you leave the service. Because healthcare was so readily available when we were on active duty, it may not be something that you think about when choosing where to live. Maybe the best case scenario is you get a fantastic and lucrative career in the civilian world with access to great health insurance. If that works for you now, great. However, if you are reliant on the VA for your health care or maybe in the future, you want to research individual VA facilities and choose a location to live based on your needs. If you suffered severe injuries like myself, have succumbed to some debilitating disease like some veterans I work with, or you were getting up in age it will likely be worth considering living close to a VA facility with a robust treatment capacity.
I have spoken to veterans recently who complain to me that they have to drive two hours from their home to be seen at the regional VA. If you are leaving active duty and choosing where you are going to rent or purchase a home, do not expect the VA to build a clinic within walking distance that carries every imaginable specialty position to treat every malady you may come across. Be proactive. Choose where you live based on acceptable access to healthcare. Even if you don’t need it right now, down the road you may rely on it. In addition, make sure you sign up with the VA soon as you leave active duty. You will be surprised how quickly people lose access to their medical records, DD-214, and other service related materials after they have transitioned. You want to make sure the VA has all of those elements on the record before you have a health concern. You won’t think about making an appointment with a physician at the VA until you have a severe problem. At that point, the last you want to do is to go shuffling through old paperwork just so that you can register and receive a letter in the mail in a few weeks with instructions for making an appointment.
If you believe you may be entitled to VA Healthcare benefits check out your designated Veteran’s office who could be a huge help and a little known secret for many vets. They’ve been a great service for many veterans. Also, don’t forget the Federal Government USA Jobs website.
3. Finish Your College or Grad School Education You’ve Already Earned It
If you want to enhance your military experience, you may be considering furthering or completing your education. With all of the education-related benefits you are entitled, it would certainly be wise of you to consider that. Most colleges welcome students with prior military experience because of the unique dynamic and worldview they can bring to a classroom discussion. Additionally, service members tend to have a higher success rate in college when compared to civilian counterparts.
Get informed about the education benefits you’re entitled to prior to leaving active duty. If you plan on transferring your post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to your dependents you will have to do that prior to leaving active duty. Check the VA’s Post 9/11 GI Bill website for complete rules. You can always use them later on if you want to transfer some back to you, but you do not want to be sitting on the giant pile of education cash you don’t intend to use and be paying for your child or spouse’s education.
Regardless of your circumstances for leaving active duty, there is a myriad of support systems and organizations out there to assist you in the transition that you could benefit from. There are mountains of scholarship funds, priority hiring considerations for veterans, and legislative changes to VA health care coming down the pike to assist your post-military lifestyle. The best way to ensure your post-military success is to do some careful consideration and planning in these three areas prior to leaving the service. You will have to be proactive to ensure you have the best access to all of the services in which you were entitled after you leave the safety net of active duty.