There is a line from a song in a classic holiday movie that says “What do you do with a general, when he’s done being a general?” In the movie, there really was a general, and he really was done being a general. What he was trying to do was operate a business that was failing and near collapse. The question was answered at the end when the soldiers formerly under his command went out of their way to honor him with a special Christmas visit that injected life into the business and brought a surge of warmth to his heart.
This specific example, while fictitious, is unfortunately not unreal. Every day there are military professionals who end their service to the country and begin their service to the rest of their professional lives. This experience can be daunting. For most in this situation, they have never been in the position where they had to seek out and apply for jobs. Military work is structured to eliminate this need. You work hard and fulfill your commitments, and you are given greater opportunities. There is little personal aspiration involved, it is all about doing your job and having your team’s back. Those skills and accomplishments don’t necessarily translate to the civilian working world. Suddenly, the veteran is required to think of self promotion and beating out another equally, if not more qualified, applicant.
Employment Resources for Today’s Military Veteran
It is for this reason that many resources are available to military veterans leaving the service today. Understandably, the skills and experience that are gained from working in the military world don’t always directly translate to the civilian world. There are unique aspects of the military that a civilian will never know. These differences, along with the complete immersion that is required in the military, quite literally separate the veteran from the civilian.
Even when the job descriptions share similarities, there are enough differences to make the translation difficult. This does not, however, mean that there is no translation. In fact, it would surprise many to know that the skills and strengths more than qualify veterans for a vast variety of everyday jobs. Furthermore, these jobs could very well be gateways to long and successful careers that could only begin to pay back veterans for their sacrifice and commitment.
A very valuable resource for the transitioning veteran is the military.com website. At the main website page, there is a link at the top that is specifically for those going through a transition. Following the link will lead to a page in the careers section of the site that specifically addresses the transition experience. There is a variety of information ranging from civilian careers to educational and medical benefits. Spending time on this and similar sites that cater to today’s military veteran, you will be able to find most of the information you need to get started on this new path.
Speaking of paths, it would benefit those interested to discuss some of the obvious, and perhaps some of the less obvious, career paths that a military veteran could pursue. There are a variety of career paths that would accept the essential lateral transfer of an experienced veteran. Jobs like mechanic, electrician, nurse, technician, plumber and even engineer are regular parts of military service. What would take several years for a person to establish in the civilian world, veterans bring directly from the experience they had in their military career. Not that they didn’t earn the experience and knowledge through their own time spent doing the work while serving but, to the civilian employer, this is often comparable to a high school graduate that is somehow capable of doing the work of a tenured professional.
Furthermore, there are a few industries that actually want to hire military veterans for who they are and what they have accomplished. Some careers like those found in the Aerospace industry, Defense industry, and a variety of fields throughout the Government, could very well be a natural fit and require little adjustment. Other seemingly smooth career transitions may be into federal law enforcement, private security, retail loss prevention, and of course public safety.
Business Resources for Today’s Military Veteran
Finding a job and starting a new career is certainly the most common transition that military veterans pursue. Perhaps, however, you are more like the general, who decided rather to take command of a new army and start his own business. Now this does not mean that you have to buy an old farm in Vermont and turn it into a ski resort. If hospitality and lodging sounds like the right fit for you, then good luck and happy skiing. If not, there are plenty of business ideas someone with a veteran’s unique knowledge and skills could pursue.
Consider things that have always seemed like a good idea gone unanswered, or passions that you have discovered that you believe you could turn into a daily endeavor. Business is simply doing something that nobody else is willing to do, or doing what’s been done better. You are already a proven winner, able to refuse failure and ignore the difficulties and pains of hard work. Directing that into a business that serves a purpose and fulfills a need may be the best thing you could do.
As any good businessman knows, the secret to success is not always in what you know, but who you know. A key to succeeding in your own business or chosen career path is capitalizing on the relationships that you have worked hard to create and sustain. It is not about using people, but rather in cooperating with people who in turn will benefit from helping you. Networking to find the right job or the resource needed to break through a barrier is often a key to succeeding. Think of how each person in a squad or platoon has their responsibility, and how everyone depends on everyone to do their job to the best of their ability. In the business world, we all have our roles to play, and depending on each other for success is vital to avoiding failure and progressing. You offer a lot to others, who can in turn offer a lot to you.
In fact, perhaps your greatest offering is the sacrifice you made to your country. This has not gone unnoticed or unrewarded. There are many grants established specifically for veterans, and many financial institutions offer services and lending specifically to veterans. Another resource is an especially dedicated division of the Small Business Administration called the Small Business Administration Office of Veteran Development. Here you will be able to find information and resources to help you succeed in your new business ventures. There is also a website presented by The Department of Veterans Affairs that helps veterans start their businesses. The Center for Veteran Entrepreneurs provides direction and help acquiring resources.
Educational Resources for Today’s Military Veteran
Education has always been an important part of the benefits offered for military service. For years, the G.I. Bill has provided resources to veterans seeking help after their service. Since the events of 9-11, the bill is broader in offering and acceptance. You can use this resource for training to schooling. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs directs this effort and facilitates the veterans in their efforts to progress themselves through this benefit.
Another benefit of military service is the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), if you participated while on active duty. If so, the government matched your contributions by doubling the amount the veteran contributes. Those benefits become available for educational uses for ten years after leaving active duty. There are also grants, scholarships and other veteran benefits offered by many states at their state-run schools and universities.
Medical Resources for Today’s Military Veteran
It is well known that veterans leave more than just time and sweat behind in their military service. If not emotional, there are commonly physical ailments that perpetuate beyond the time spent in service. This could lead to a long and challenging life of pain or discomfort. Even for those who manage to escape any serious injury, there will always be a need for medical benefits.
During service, the Military Health System provides the medical coverage needed. After service has ended, The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), an extension of the TRICARE medical plan, is a solution for transitional medical benefits. Until the veteran is able to find coverage through a work plan, or acquire his or her own if self-employed, these options may be available.
Needless to say, there are a lot of new challenges facing a military veteran, but there are also so many exciting opportunities that there should be no fear in making the change. The resources that exist, and will continue to be available to veterans, make the transition smoother and less complicated. Do not fail to seek out these and other such resources as you are beginning the next chapter of your life. There is certainly something to be done with a general, or a private, or any other rank of serviceman leaving the security of a known life in the military. Take the opportunity to do something that fulfills you, and you will find that you can be happier than you have ever been. You are unique and special. Carry on with that knowledge and the confidence it brings.