10 Things No One Tells You About Leaving the Military

Each year an estimated 230,000- 245,000 service members are leaving the military. These men and women then face the difficult task of entering the civilian working force.

We are here to help make that transition smooth and less stressful. Everyone prepares you for the leaving process.

What about after you leave? We've created a list of the ten things no one tells you about transitioning into your new life.

1. Start Prepping Early

Start prepping for your exit early to ease the transition. This could include getting your degree.

You can also begin laying the groundwork for your own business. You can get a side gig doing something that interests you.

By preparing for the military to civilian transition, getting overwhelmed is less likely. You will take a large transition and turn it into a series of smaller steps.

2. A Culture Shift is Coming

You have lived and worked in an honor-based culture. The needs of the whole are greater than those of the individual.

This is not the case in civilian life. You will find people are more concerned about themselves than the whole.


Your training has taught you to react decisively and to act fast. You have a "command voice" that is second nature to use.

While life-saving on the battlefield, you'll ruffle feathers in an office discussion. This is tough, as you may react without realizing or trying.

Practice developing communication skills for civilian life. Don't let a small conflict escalate into a full-blown battle.


Civilian office jobs do not include cursing. While soldiers grow accustomed to cursing on a regular basis, you'll need to learn to filter.

Consider where you are planning to work, and adjust your language. You may get away with cursing in an auto shop, but not at an accounting firm.

3. What Do You Want?

Knowing yourself, and what you want, is key to your success. This advice comes from the military strategy expert Sun Tzu.

Before you start your job search make a few lists. What are you good at? What do you like to do? How do you add value? What is your advantage over the competition?

Knowing what you want and don't want will help you narrow your search. You won't waste time on something that isn't going to work for you.

4. Networking is Important Now

People want to hire veterans. You need to get out there and let them know you want a job.

Start by using your social media connections. Try putting on a suit and attend a career fair.

The goal is to get in front of as many people as possible. You want to get outside of your community and find people to branch out to.

Use this as an opportunity to learn. Even if you don't get the job, you are building skills.

5. Learn to Sell Your Skills

One of the civilian skills you'll need to learn is selling yourself. Don't depend on your actions or achievements to sell you.

Don't think of it as bragging. You need to let potential employers know what your specific skills are.

An employer is going to look at those skills and know how they benefit their job opening. It is your job to show them how you add value to the position.

6. Patience is a Virtue

Transitioning to civilian life is a long process. Do not get discouraged if things do not go right or fast.

Your first job may not be your destiny, and that's ok. Look at it as a learning process and not a roadblock.

It can also take time to find your first job. It is normal to apply to many different positions before landing one.

7. There is Going to be Paperwork

Your days of paperwork are not done when you leave the military. Prepare to fill out job applications, resumes, tax forms, and medical forms.

Make more than one copy of everything. Once you are out, you will still need the DD214 form.

If you apply for a VA loan they will ask for a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Your future employer may ask for this form too.

If you decide to work for the government they definitely ask for it. If you have these forms ready you won't get delayed in your plans because of paperwork.

8. Save Money

As we covered, it can take time to find the right position. You are going to need money to pay bills during this time.

Plan for rent and utilities for a few months while you get everything in order. You will also need to prepare for changes in budgeting. Things like taxable income and medical insurance are going to need consideration.

9. Your Family is Adjusting Too

You may be the one leaving the navy, but your family is adjusting too. They are happy to have you home but have grown used to your military schedule.

Try to remember that adjusting to civilian life includes adjusting to family life. Use tip number 6, and try to use patience while your family adjusts to the new routine.

10. You Might Take a Step Back After Leaving The Military

This has two meanings, first take a step back and decompress. You are making a major change in your life and it is important to mentally deal with that.

Once you've done this, you are ready to start your job search. This is where your second step back comes in.

Your civilian peers have gotten jobs and developed skills while you were in the military. Your skills are competitive, but you may need to start lower than you expected.

Applying to jobs is competitive, use this as a challenge to work harder and smarter. It is possible to be a top leader at a company, be willing to put in the work to get there.

Leaving the Military

Getting out of the military presents a whole new set of challenges as you adjust to civilian life. By preparing early and knowing yourself you will have the advantage when you are out.

Know yourself and what you are good at. This will focus your job search and save you time and energy.

Save money so you have time to patiently search for the right position. Don't try to rush into something that isn't right.

Don't hesitate to ask for assistance. Start building your network by contacting us.