While you are serving in the military, everything will be provided for you. From your food, clothing, home – even your schedule will be laid out for you. All you have to do is to follow. Of course, that does not really give you the freedom to make choices but it makes everything simple and organized.
In a civilian world, these will all change. You now have to take care of everything. You will have more freedom to choose how you will live your life, but the burden of making all these choices may be too much for you to handle in the beginning. This is especially true for those who joined the military while they were still young.
Of course, it is not impossible to get used to living a civilian life but you do have to make a lot of adjustments.
Here are the adjustments that you have to go through to transition well from a military to civilian life.
1. No more saluting
This is one of the habits that will really look odd when you live your life as a civilian. That means you have to change this immediately. It might be hard to fight the urge but you will get used to it in time.
2. Buying everything
Nothing comes for free now. You have to buy everything that you need to survive. Your clothes, food, drinks, toiletries and personal stuff – all of these will have to be purchased if you want to use them.
3. Choosing what to wear
This may seem trivial but it is still a major adjustment for a lot of veterans. In the military, you had your uniform. Dressing up every day was a no-brainer. As a civilian, you have more options and you get to fully decide what you want to wear for the day – as long as it is decent.
4. Waking early without an agenda in mind
In the military, you usually have to wake up early and with a purpose. In the civilian world, it will not be the same and your agenda will be different. Of course, when you start working, this will change. But while you are in between jobs, it might seem odd to wake up with nothing to do.
5. Trying to work with people who has no idea about military service
Once you enter the military, your whole world changes. You look at everything else through a different looking glass. When you transition to a civilian life, it is challenging for some people to understand your military background – more so what you have been through in the service.
6. Adjusting to set family routine
In your absence, you family developed a routine around the house that did not include you. When you are back, you have to integrate and find your spot in this routine. Everyone will have to adjust as you try to fit back in.
7. Integrating in the community
Since the military life have changed your perspective in life, it might be tough to interact with civilians who have no idea of the sacrifice that you went through. It will be hard to feel like you belong in the community.
8. Applying for a job
Applying for a civilian job is different and this is another thing that you have to adjust to. The process is different and that expectations are not the same. If the veteran started in the military at a young age, they might not understand how the civilian recruitment process works.
9. Translating military skills for job application
While military skills are valuable to a civilian company, it might be hard to translate that into an actual job application.
10. Creating a resume
The civilian equivalent of your Field Service Record in the military is a resume. They both detail specific qualifications and other relevant experiences and training. However, a resume is meant to highlight your skills which would match the job opening. You need to make sure that the information in your resume is a match with what the company needs.
11. Returning to a job
Adjusting to a job is not that easy. It will require you to learn new skills and work with a new team. That might take some time to get used to.
12. Getting used to the organizational culture in a civilian workplace
In the military, everything is structured and the chain of command is very clear. In a civilian workplace, the same is not true. Sometimes, people have different designations but they have the same level of authority. Some may both be called managers but the other may have more responsibilities than the other.
13. Making a lot of choices
In the military, you were practically told what to do and how to act. As a civilian, that is no longer true. You have to make your own choices and that may come as a shock. Sometimes, it can quite overwhelming.
14. Completing a project
In the military, you are not allowed to leave until a mission is completed. In a civilian workplace, you are not tied to a project in the same manner. You have the freedom to leave or go home at 5pm even if the job is complete or not. Of course, veterans will not likely do so but their civilian colleagues could do it. This might feel frustrating sometimes.
15. Being tactful when speaking
Those from the military are very blunt. They will tell it to you straight and will not sugarcoat anything. In the civilian world, this might be viewed as disrespectful. You may have to learn how to be more tactful. Also, you have to learn how to understand the subtle hints that colleagues may be giving you.
16. Competing with colleagues
Your military life is all about collaboration and working as a team. After all, when it gets tough, you only have your team to back you up. In a civilian workplace, the competition is more fierce. In fact, things might seem more ruthless.
17. Getting medical and dental help
When you need any form of medical or dental help, even insurance, the military will provide it for you. In a civilian setting, you have to look for this yourself. If you are lucky, you can get an employer who will provide you with these benefits – but it is not always a guarantee.
18. Disappointing agreements
Unfortunately, not all agreements between civilians follow through. There are instances when you will find yourself disappointed because some people do not meet your expectations – intentionally or not.
19. Learning to be more open
Veterans are often viewed as being withdrawn or reserved. This is because of what they went through in the service. But you have to learn how to be more open if you really want to be a part of the community you are in.
20. Negotiating salaries
The military will define your compensation and benefits depending on your rank. In a civilian workplace, you can negotiate your salary. This will depend on your value as a worker. Usually, a job has a salary range. You can try to negotiate the higher range or you can give your benefits a boost.
21. Defining your job responsibilities
A civilian job may have its set of responsibilities but it is not as defined as those in the military. You might have to be clear with your own job description before you accept a job. You should also avoid feeling like you have to accomplish the same set of responsibilities or have the same sense of fulfillment as you did in the military. There is a big difference between the two.