Transitioning out of the military is a massive change in many areas of life. Suddenly you go from identity, routines, rituals, and training to some level of uncertainty where no one is telling you what to do, where to live, when to be present, and how to dress. You go from seeing your military family every day to being largely separated from individuals with shared experiences with you.
Lack of Preparation
The military has hundreds of years of experience in getting you ready for service and while they do offer some helpful transition assistance, there is still some room for growth when it comes to preparing you to transition to the civilian sector. In fact, Pew Research Center reports that “while most veterans say the military prepared them for active duty, only about half say they were well prepared for the transition to civilian life. Some 16% say the military prepared them very well for the transition and 36% say it prepared them somewhat well.”
Those percentages are pretty low. That means about one in two veterans did not feel even somewhat well prepared by the military for their transition.
Difficulty in Transition
The lack of adequate preparation can be particularly problematic given the inherently challenging nature of transition. According to the Pew study, 47% of post-9/11 veterans say that their transition was difficult. Reporting a difficult transition is especially common among those who have been in combat and those who currently experience or have experienced post-traumatic stress (PTS).
This is a change in comparison to pre-9/11 veterans “a large majority of pre-9/11 veterans (78%) say it was easy for them to make the transition.”
If you’re experiencing difficulty in your transition, you’re certainly not alone.
Given this research, you can probably expect the transition to be somewhat difficult for some. Or maybe you’re already in the midst of your transition and you’re coming up against that difficulty. We know from Pew’s research that relying solely on the military’s transition assistance programs is not going to get you to the level of preparation you need to have a smooth transition.
Unfortunately, despite all you have sacrificed for our country it is unlikely that someone is going to come to assist you through your transition if you don’t reach out. You may be hesitant to ask for help but accepting assistance is a sign of wisdom and strength, not of weakness or failure. You’ll get out of your transition what you put in and most are not sure the best areas to focus on during their transition. There are many non-profits, such as American Dream U, and other organizations that are dedicated to assisting you through the transition program.
We’ve prepared hours of hands-on content for you, lined up engaging speakers who know how to win the game of transition, and had thousands of conversations with transitioning service members just like you so that we can offer you the best transition advice possible.
Ultimately, all that is not going to get you anywhere if you don’t take advantage of it. Reach out to others and join our community. Go out and go get it – be the hero of your story. The path to a smoother transition and towards creating your bigger future is right in front of you. The question is: will you take it?