Taking proactive steps to avoid procrastinating on your ETS can save you lots of stress in a time of transition that is often already overwhelming. As soon as you find out your official ETS date, begin figuring out what you can get started on. Typically, it’s best to start the process 18 months prior to your separation date.
Before that even begins, it can be helpful to have a picture in your mind of what the next year and a half will look like. This quick article will provide you with a big-picture overview of just that broken down into simple steps. (If you want more ETSing information, we have a complete set of Army ETS Timeline Guidelines here).
18 months out: 2 steps
This is the time to begin reflecting on your future. What do you want to do when you get out? Will you be getting a job? Going back to school? At this point, all you need is a general picture.
Secondly, take a practical look at your finances. How much cushion time to find a job will your savings afford you? What housing options will be feasible for you?
12 months out: 2 steps
Only 365 days to go! That time will likely fly by. It’s time to get specific about what you want to do. What do you want to go back to school for? What is your ideal job? If you’re not sure, take 15 minutes to imagine and write out your perfect day. This exercise will help you dream about what creating your bigger future could look like.
Secondly, this is also the time where you’ll want to keep track of your paper trail — have your orders been approved? Do you have appointments you need in order to ETS scheduled?
6 months out: 2 steps
Here is the moment when you go from ideas to concrete action steps. Begin you job search by reaching out to companies you’d like to work for. Utilize LinkedIn to form key connections and get advice from those who have gone before you.
Secondly, attend your ETS briefing. ETS briefings are mandatory for soldiers separating from the Army. They must be attended at least 120 days prior to your separation date – so get that on your calendar.
3 months: 4 steps
Pull out your financial information again and review your finances. This may be a good time to create a budget for your separation time.
Gather your medical records, as well as your families. It is best to do this in advance rather than trying to figure it out after the fact when you might already need them.
Do some research and learn about insurance policies, everything from life insurance to health insurance to dental insurance and more.
Attend all last-minute appointments that you need. These may include things like your separation physical, dental work, briefings, etc. Be sure to get these done as soon as possible so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Now is when the rubber meets the road. There a just a few things left to do to prepare for the final day of your military career.
Remember, depending on your post or base requirements, you may need to attend a Transition Assistance Program (TAP). These programs were created to help military members transition out of the military. Additionally, be sure to have filed your DD214 and double-check to make sure you’ve received all of your medical records, awards, certificates, and anything else you may need
And that’s it!