Getting out of the military is a huge deal. You are changing your career, your community, your location, everything. Not planning properly is a quick way to fuck up your life for years to come.
Here is the chain of failure that I see often repeated among too many veterans:
- Get out without a financial plan
- Move “back home”
- Results in unemployment or underemployment
- Financial troubles result in marriage problems
- Marriage breaks results in divorce
- Relationship with kids is strained resulting in isolation
- Isolation and depression result in substance abuse
- Substance abuse and depression lead to suicide
Obviously this isn’t always the case, no problem is that simple, but for many veterans this is indeed true, and we can break this chain if we prepare you for transition, or even after your transition.
Enter the 4 Big Questions
- Are you Financially ready to get out?
- Do you know WHY you are getting out?
- Do you know Where you want to live?
- Do you know What you want to do?
If you answer these four questions, you will invariably make a plan for your transition. If you’ve already gotten out, you can use these questions to MAKE a plan and then work towards it. If you can take care of the external stressors in your life: marriage, finances, work, etc, then taking care of the internal stressors like PTSD becomes much easier. If you get a job tomorrow, that problem is fixed overnight; you’re not going to have the same success wrestling the demons in your mind.
Question 1- There is a ton of information out there on making a budget. Personally, I think Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University was an outstanding tool. If you don’t want to pay for it, there’s probably a class going on in a church near you. I’ve never personally met the guy, but everything I learned about finances, I’ve learned from him. Bottom line is this: You need to know where every dollar you make is going, and have a plan for every dollar
I really like things presented simply, and Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps are just that:
- Save $1,000
- Pay off Debt (except the house)
- 3-6 month fund
- Invest 15%
- Save for College
- Pay off Home
Question 2- At some point after you get out, you’re going to look back at your time in the military and miss it. If you have a bad reason for getting out, that thought is going to nag at you. Bad reasons include but are not limited to:
- My 1SG is an asshole
- I hate PT formations
- The command climate is toxic
- Fort Polk is a shithole
- My wife hates the military
That last one sets a lot of people off, but if you love being in the military, and she hates it, you are going to resent her for “making” you get out and that is going to cause major problems in the relationship you are trying to save by getting out. I don’t have the right answer for you here, sorry, but you two need to talk.
Here is a great write up from Chad on answering this question
Question 3- I know you want to go back home. You have fond memories of your childhood, and you miss being around your family. If you can’t find a job, however, going back home is the worst possible thing you can do to yourself and your family. I have talked about decision gates as a way to find a middle ground here:
12 months out: I want a job in Athens, GA
9 months out: I want a job within 4 hours of Athens, GA
6 months out: I want a job in the southeast United States
3 months out: I want a job anywhere in the US
You move to the next gate if you have had no success at the previous one. Also, get a fucking headhunter.
Question 4- You are starting a new career and a new life. It’s your chance to do whatever you want. Seriously, your MOS should NEVER be a limiting factor in looking for your next career. If you don’t want to do your MOS for the rest of your life then don’t. Being a veteran, you bring a lot of things to the table that are hard to find in the civilian world, your MOS is not one of them.
Alright, so you made it through this article, you’re on the right track. Take this seriously and now go back and click the links provided and read those. Then go back and answer the questions, and make sure if you’re married that answering them is a joint effort.
Now you have a plan, go execute and congratulations on this next phase in your life!
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