Time to prepare: what you should consider before leaving military life

Leaving the world of the military is a terrifying business. Outside of combat, servicing vehicles or making major deals for munitions, civilian life can seem completely alien.

Think of the film The Deer Hunter. A hopeless and desolate comment on the Vietnam War, it features Robert DeNiro as a disillusioned solider returning from Nam to the sleepy backwoods of rural America.

Damaged from the war, every activity seems so bland and lacking in danger compared to the outside world.

Your life, even if you have served on the battlefield, probably isn’t quite as dramatic as this maudlin film from the 70s, but you might still struggle to acclimatize to the outside world away from mega tanks and disciplined routines.

Civilian life requires a different skillset than military life – but your average nine-to-five job can also benefit hugely from the transferable skills you’ve learned during your service.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few ways to help you adjust before you leave the army.

Education

It can be tempting to believe that time in the army will teach you all you need in life – but that simply isn’t the case.

While you might be able to change a tyre in the burning heat of a desert in the Middle East, can you be a successful manager on a shop floor, or inspire the confidence of a group of workshy employees during an eight-hour shift?

These soft skills and more can be taught while you’re in the military – but only from outside sources.

Courses for the army are now being provided by a number of distance learning establishments, allowing you to study while you’re on active duty in foreign lands – or chilling out in a barracks back home.

These skills can inform your military life as well as your time in the outside world, so give them some research and sign yourself up.

Networking

Get yourself connected isn’t just a fantastic song by the Stereo MCs – it’s also the most effective way to procure a job in the outside world.

If you’re nearing the end of service, start sending out emails to prospective employers and contractors as soon as possible.

They might just be speculative, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’ve made yourself known? When a job does present itself with an employer, you’ll be on record as having expressed an interest.

Start planning your finances

The last thing you want upon leaving the military is to struggle with your finances. It’s a problem that numerous ex-servicemen and women have fallen into, which is why so many end up on the streets.

Consult a financial planner while you’re still in active service. This will give you the chance to figure out some major monetary issues, like savings, private pensions and (if you’re planning on settling down the straightaway) your chances of getting a mortgage.

These aren’t the only challenges facing the modern military serviceperson. If you can think of any more, let us know in the comments below.

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