Feb 28

Transition — It’s Not an Overnight Thing

Just like every other major transition in life – leaving home for the first time, getting married, joining the military – separating from a long career in military service is not an overnight thing. The better prepared you are, the better equipped you will be to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that await you during and beyond the transition process.

Senior leaders and their spouses don’t want to whine, especially after long careers in responsible leadership positions and after having regularly demonstrated an ability to “carry on” during the most difficult times.

Yet for many, when the uniform comes off for the last time, it is a time of uncertainty and loss of an identity that has been developed and shaped over many years. The day after separation from service, no one is asking for your opinion nor looking to you for guidance.  You are the same person as you were the day before, filled with the same knowledge, understanding and leadership experience, but now you must seek out validation and rebuild your credibility in new forums. It can be a daunting task if you are not prepared.

The good news is that you are not alone as you plan the journey forward. There is a lot of guidance out there if you are willing to seek it out and a vast array of resources to help you figure out what’s next. While it is hard to take the time to seriously contemplate transition while still seeking advancement on active duty, you and your spouse will greatly benefit from beginning an honest conversation with one another and doing some serious homework at least two years before you contemplate separating from the service.

As the spouse of a 36 year military veteran who has recently transitioned, and having watched several of our peers “make the leap” into civilian life, some successfully, some not so well, I believe senior leaders and their partners need a safe haven for conversation and access to mentors who can shed some light on their own military to civilian transition experiences. What works well and which transition pitfalls can be avoided?

I am launching this blog to provide a forum for dialogue on this issue. My intent is for senior active duty members and their spouses as well as veterans and the employers who hire them to learn from the successful and not so successful transitions of those who have gone before them.  The blog will include interviews with senior leaders, their corporate and government employers, spouses and others; some will be on the record, while others may wish to share their past experiences anonymously, identified only by past rank and service or industry sector.

In future blog posts, we will explore a range of topics related to transitioning from military to civilian life, including but not limited to:

  • Pursuit of second careers for both the veteran and/or the spouse vs life in full retirement
  • Taking charge of your health
  • Pros and cons of using executive search firms
  • Setting post-military life goals
  • Building new professional and personal networks/communities vs building retirement life around military communities
  • Adapting to corporate culture
  • On-boarding success stories

Future posts also will provide stories and perspectives from corporate, nonprofit and public sector employers to highlight successful transitions and lessons learned in hiring veterans and their spouses, as well as advice from other professionals who work with military veterans and their spouses during their transition from military life.

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