One of the biggest challenges that many veterans and service members face is the return to civilian life; something which can be a challenge both personally and professionally. According to an article from the Pew Research Center, one of the biggest obstacles faced by those re-entering the workforce or civilian life in general is largely correlated with injury in the line of duty and emotional triggers such as flashbacks and symptoms related to post-traumatic stress. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to help you adjust to civilian life.
Financial & Professional Concerns
Finding work that suits you and your skills is often one of the biggest challenges facing former service members and retired veterans. For one, you may not be as familiar with the hiring process as civilians that are applying for the same position, which can put you at a disadvantage. It's important to keep in mind that many employers do value service time just as much as professional experience. The closer you can align your own experience with what's required of the job, the better your chances of success. It's also helpful to remember that many veterans face similar issues when it comes to returning to the workforce so you're not alone and there are resources available to help.
The main thing to focus on when applying for a civilian job are your transferable skills. It may take some time and reflection to help you understand what these skills are and how they relate to the position you're applying for, but it's an exercise that's well worth the time. It can be helpful to think broadly when considering your skills; for example project management and managing others are two things that many service members have experience with that employers will be eager to know about.
Adjusting To Civilian Life
The simple fact of the matter is that civilian life is not as structured or regimented as life in the military. This transition can be difficult for many veterans as they find themselves in professional situations that require more autonomy and allow for more flexibility than they are used to. It's important to remember that many of the same skills you have still apply, but you may have to get used to setting your own structure and approach. If you're unsure of how to go about doing this, it's perfectly acceptable to ask for some guidance or clarification from an employer. In fact, they'll probably appreciate the straightforward approach and initiative it demonstrates.
Finding Your Community
Finding your foothold in a community is an important step to reintegrating yourself back into civilian life. This doesn't have to mean the people that live in your neighborhood necessarily, it can be anything from reconnecting with old friends, making new connections, reestablishing family relationships, or even finding a group of like-minded veterans or retired military members to share your experiences with. There are a number of Veteran Support Groups that are there for exactly this reason.
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