5 Ways to Help Your Service Member Transition to Civilian Life


by Hannah Becker, Guest Contributor

Transitioning out of the military is inevitable. For many service members (and their spouses) the day of end of service is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Here are a few thoughts that ran through my head when my hubby’s ETS was on the horizon:

“Finally! We can take that summer RV trip through Yellowstone!”

“We can build the dream house we’ve been talking about!”

And, oh, my personal fav–

No more moving—let’s burn the boxes!!!

Like any other transition in life—PCS, deployment, birth of children, etc.—transitioning into the civilian world presents its own set of challenges. This unique season in life provides a great opportunity to support your spouse as they transition from active duty to civilian life. Here are a few tips for helping make your vet’s transition a little less stressful:

5 Ways to Help Your Service Member Transition to Civilian Life

5 Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition

Connect on Online Professional Networks

Encourage your veteran to join online veteran career networks. LinkedIn offers a fabulous selection of veteran recruiting groups and industry-specific discussion. Additionally, veteran-owned and -operated RallyPoint provides a great platform for veterans to post their resumes and communicate with other military professionals seeking employment in the civilian sector. The Military.com Transition Center is another great online resource for veterans looking for career advice and articles.

Build a snazzy profile, make connections and communicate within your network.

Spread the Word

Make a list of friends, family and former military community members that are actively involved in industries your spouse might be interested in. Contact them to spread the word about your spouse’s upcoming availability for employment. Ask if they can provide any hiring contacts that may assist in landing your spouse an interview and seek recommendations for upcoming opportunities at their company.

Nothing like taking the Hire a Hero initiative right to their doorstep.

Translate the Lingo

If your veteran is seeking a career outside of defense work, it may be time to “let go” of the military-specific lingo on his or her resume and expand their professional jargon to include some terms “us civies” would understand.

Remember all those funny acronyms and other uniform jargon you used to get lost in when first married? Well, now your ignorance can be of assistance.

Provide a sounding board for nixing branch-specific acronyms and extremely assertive active words that may leave non-military personnel wearing that once-familiar quizzical look. Help translate by identifying potentially confusing language and researching more generally understood descriptions.

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

Landing a job on the civilian side may be much more involved than simply receiving new orders, especially in today’s recession-state economy. Be active in encouraging your spouse throughout the process, reminding them that this is a big transition and not to worry if it takes some time (and maybe even a couple of jobs) to find the right fit.

Depending on your spouse’s former pursuits, this transition may present the first time they have ever experienced a civilian job hunt.

Facilitate open discussion regarding both you and your spouse’s feelings and trepidations throughout the transition process (it’s OK to be scared of the unknown). This type of open and honest dialogue will help assure both parties that they are in this together.

Embrace the Second Act

No two transitions are the same. Some service members have had their transition sequence locked down for years, while others have no idea what’s in store on the other side.

Supporting a spouse exploring a new career can mean a second act for yourself as well. This transition may involve a variety of opportunities, not only for your spouse, but also for yourself. Consider investing in YOUR education, explore advantageous career moves for YOU, contemplate future professional partnership opportunities for you and your spouse.

Related: Grass Isn’t Always Greener: The Truth of Military Retirement Life

Civilian life will be different from active duty. While the transition may initially present some daunting challenges, this second act is accompanied by a plethora of opportunities.

As military spouses, we are accustomed to helping share the load, both physically and mentally. Whether it’s running a household while your spouse is deployed or managing finances thorough out a transition while your spouse seeks employment outside the service, we’re master jugglers of ”all-too-many” hats.

Finding a new job is certainly a life stressor, but discovering a new career, like your spouse (and you) may be doing as he or she transitions into civilian life, can be a major milestone. Don’t become overwhelmed.

Follow the tips above to help your spouse navigate these uncharted waters in their professional pursuits and embrace this new season in life with open arms!

How are you and your service member preparing for your transition from military to civilian life? 

Hannah Becker head shotHannah Becker is a serial entrepreneur, MBA grad and proud military spouse. Author of The Motivated Millennial: An Entrepreneurial Guidebook for Generation Y and Founder/Consultant at HCB Consulting, Hannah is committed to encouraging others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Learn more about Hannah’s career and publications at www.themotivatedmillennial.com. Follow Hannah on Twitter: @MotivatedGenY or on Facebook.


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