I have often been asked about my experience transitioning out of the military and if I have any advice to give. I will be honest getting out of the military was a hard decision for me to make for several reasons. I joined the military when I was 17 and it was the first job I had ever had and everything I knew. I didn't know how to be an adult- what I mean by that is being where to move and where to work and basically, the Navy made the big decisions for me. I was comfortable and the job I had in the military gave me the opportunity to grow and learn( I was a surgical technician). I also had a new family and a baby who and the military health care was great and that would be something I would be losing if I got out.
I think the best decision I made joining the Navy was picking a job (NEC) that would transition to a job in the civilian sector. I qualified for the hospital corpsman school because I scored a good score on my ASVAB. I didn't study but I know now that there are tools to help you study for the test. Now I know understand how important that test was. After basic corpsman school, I was given the opportunity to specialize in the corpsman field and I chose to go to Surgical tech school. (The credits from both schools transferred into college credits- I would recommend asking if the school you go to offers college credits).
Leaving the military was a tough decision. There are many things I had to think about- job or school, health care, and how I would mentally prepare for a huge life change.
What kind of helped the transition from military life into civilian life was joining the reserves. Even though the experience wasn't a pleasant one because I was used structure and it just seemed like the reserves weren't as organized. It did help with making the transition a bit easier.
The one thing you have to keep in mind is that the government will never reach out to you and explain the benefits that you are entitled to, you have to do the research and apply for the programs you qualify for. In my next post I will share some websites that will help prepare you for life after the military.
Make you sure you attend the course the Navy makes you go to before you get out. The name of the class is constantly changing but the information you get out of it is important. They go over several subjects like how to write a résumé to how to apply for VA benefits.
Make sure you get copies of all the important paperwork, such as medical records, your SMART transcripts, which has been renamed JST system. Make sure the information on your DD214 is correct; that your achievements, awards, and deployments.
What I also did weeks before I got out was start my VA medical benefits claim. I scheduled my VA claim exams and had all my appointment completed before I got out. I would highly recommend that as it sometimes takes anywhere from 6 months to years before you hear back from the compensation board.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss the Navy, but I felt like I was ready for the next phase in my life and pursue the career I wanted. I was comfortable in a secure job and it was hard to make that leap but I wanted to challenge myself and I knew that I didn't want to make a career out of the military. I am thankful I made that decision and got out after my first enlistment and didn't waste more of my time. The transition wasn't easy it was a huge life decision but I had resources that made the experience easy.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out, Id love to help. I will be adding websites and resources to help make the big life change a bit smoother in my next post.
Thank you for your service and know that getting out of the military is scary but it is not the end, It is the beginning of a new and exciting journey!