The transition from the military to civilian life is composed of an array of emotions. From the excitement of having control over your life again and being able to dictate what your days consist of, to the fear of the unknown; this can prove to be a true challenge for many veterans. And, although the military does offer several transitional services such as transitional classes and resume writing, it seems that the majority of this burden falls on the veterans themselves.

Everything from securing transportation, to acquiring housing, to finding a job is the responsibility of the veteran. This is a time when each veteran must take responsibility for their livelihood and their future.  To understand this fully, and what steps you can take to create a strong foundation for your future, let’s explore the transition process from the military to civilian employment.

Making the Transition

If your MOS doesn’t translate directly into a civilian job, it might seem as if you’re completely starting over. Before we discuss that topic, let’s go through the first steps of the transitional period. This is when you’re still in the military but nearing terminal leave, nearing your release date/separation date, or approaching your return date.

  • Terminal Leave Start Date – A final leave just prior to separation or discharge from service consisting of any accumulated, unused time off granted to a member of the armed forces. Some transitioning military members use this time to take classes before their official release date.
  • Release Date or Separation Date – When you officially separate from the military.
  • Return Date – When you are returning “home” or wherever you are settling after the military.
  • Work Date – The date that you must begin working before you run out of money.
To help you nail down your timeline, download our Veteran Transition Timeline Worksheet for free by completing the form below!

*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

Download the Veteran Worksheet Now!


Evaluate

During the transitional period, there’s much work to be done to secure a solid future for yourself. So after determining these key dates, it is crucial to begin evaluating your situation.

Below are some serious questions you should consider during the beginning of your transition.

1. Should you take some time off to focus on your mental health?

This aspect of the transition is often overlooked, typically because many veterans feel the pressure to jump into a civilian career immediately. This mistake is as understandable as it is dangerous. Unfortunately, 10%-20% of veterans suffer from PTSD and 20 veterans commit suicide every day. The side effects of PTSD can be mitigated by allocating the proper amount of time to recover physically and mentally during this transition while utilizing the resources available to you.

*You can also check out our blog on the topic: Get Help, Get Better: Veteran Suicide Prevention

2. Do you have time for an education, or do you need to work immediately?

Everyone’s transition is different. Some veterans can afford the missed time at work and some veterans need to start working immediately. A good way to evaluate your situation is by creating a budget. Mint is a great free way to put together a budget. By putting together a budget, you will be able to see how much money you have to spend on bills and how much money you have in surplus. This will help you determine how much time you have (if any) to get an education, but this is also contingent on what benefits you have available.

3. What military education benefits do you qualify for?

The educational benefits you qualify for will vary depending on: time served, period served, branch, and discharge status. While you may have already known that, did you know that you can also share your benefits with immediate family members? You can even use part of your benefits and still share the remaining benefits with an immediate family member. To help you learn what benefits you may qualify for and the details each benefit, we put together an informative list below.



Tuition Assistance

What is it? Tuition Assistance is a military benefit that pays the cost of tuition and some fees.

Who is Eligible? Virtually all military service members are eligible. However, the criteria for eligibility is determined by each branch.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance covers up to 100% of tuition and fees not to exceed:

    • $250/Semester Credit Hour
    • $166/Quarter Credit Hour
    • $4500/Fiscal Year (The Navy has a 16 credit hour annual limit.)

Post 9/11 GI Bill®

What is it? The Post 9/11 GI Bill® provides up to 36 months (4 traditional school years) of education benefits to eligible service members and veterans for:

    • College
    • Business Technical or Vocational Courses
    • Correspondence Courses
    • Apprenticeship/Job Training
    • Flight Training
    • Licensing & Testing Programs

Who is Eligible? Service members (Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve) and veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty since 9/10/2001. Survivors of a military member who died on active duty after 9/10/2011 may be eligible for Fry Scholarship program which pays the same as Post-9/11 GI Bill®.

Benefit: Paid tuition and fees, living (housing) stipend and book stipend.

    • Benefits are tiered based on the number of days on active duty.
    • Some limitations apply to those currently on active duty.
    • Benefits can be transferred to a spouse or family member.

Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran

What is it? Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran (MGIB-AD) provides up to 36 months (4 regular school years) of education benefits to eligible veterans for:

    • College, Business
    • Technical or Vocational Courses
    • Correspondence Courses
    • Apprenticeship/Job Training
    • Flight Training

Who is Eligible? Active Duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. Veterans – there are four categories of Veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty.

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves

What is it? The Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves is similar to the Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran but at reduced rates.

Who is Eligible? Active duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. For veterans, there are four categories of veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty.

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Loan Repayment (LRP)

What is it? Your service may partially or fully repay college loans.

Who is Eligible? Generally for enlisted members only. Several factors determine your eligibility, including your branch, your MOS, and terms of your contract. Your loans must be in good standing, i.e. not in default.

Benefit: Learn more about repayment programs below.

There are also specialized loan repayment programs for health professional officers.


Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program

What is it? The Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program is an additional benefit intended to supplement tuition assistance from the military with GI Bill® benefits.

Who is Eligible? To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, the person must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for GI Bill® benefits.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance will pay up to 75% of the cost of classes, the “top-up” program will pay the remainder of the cost.


Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA)

What is it? The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA) provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. May be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Who is Eligible? You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of a service member who died, is missing, or was permanently disabled while on duty or as a result of a service-related condition.

Benefit: Up to $1,224 per month for full-time institutional education.


Work-Study Program

What is it? If you’re a full-time or 3/4-time student in a college degree program or a vocational or professional program, you can “earn while you learn” with a VA work-study allowance through the Work-Study Program.

Who is Eligible? The VA work-study allowance is available to persons training under one of the VA benefits programs:

    • GI Bill®
    • Vocational Rehabilitation (for veterans)
    • Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
    • Dependents may also be eligible

Benefit: You’ll earn an hourly wage equal to the Federal minimum wage or your State minimum wage, whichever is greater.


Tutorial Assistance Program

What is it? The Tutorial Assistance Program can help you pay for necessary tutoring and is a supplement to your GI Bill® benefit. If you have questions on this program please contact the VA’s toll-free number 888-442-4551.

Who is Eligible? If you are receiving VA benefits at a half-time or more rate, you are eligible

Benefit: VA may provide you with a tutor or with information for finding one.



Choosing a Career & Training Path

Once you have determined if you need to take time off for your health or simply cannot afford to and also what your educational options look like (benefits-wise). You now face the challenge of choosing what career will be best for you and your future

What are you going to do? How are you going to choose? This may seem like a daunting task but luckily we put together a series of questions which can help you determine which career path may be best for you!

1. What kind of experience/skills do you have?

For this question, you should take all of your experience and skills into consideration. Whether they come from hobbies or previous work, you may have experience or skills that will translate into many job roles. For this question, we recommend you write down all the skills and experience you have. Try to identify at least 10-15 things.

Examples: Problem-solving, computer building, management, gaming, communications, networking, building, team building, project manager, logistics, leatherworking.

2. How do my skills lineup with a career I will enjoy?

Once you have listed out all of your experience, you should pick out your three strongest and the three you enjoy most. Next, pick two things you are passionate about. Now combine your two passions with each skill/experience (strongest & enjoy most) and enter them in the My Next Move search engine. From there you can start to get an idea of what kind of career paths might be suitable for you.

*Note: This is a tool to help you generate ideas. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t like the options you see, there are many other pathways you can choose!

Example:

  • (Problem Solving, Computer Building)-Enjoyed Most
  • (Logistics, Communications)- Strongest
  • (Sports, team building)- Passions

Jobs matched with keywords while also having a positive job demand in the future:

  1. Coaches & Scouts
  2. Computer User Support Specialists

If you’re interested in a career in IT or cyber security, check out our Top 3 IT Jobs for Transitioning Veterans Blog.

3. What type of education matches your situation?

This question depends on multiple factors; timeline, preferred style, benefits, lifestyle, and work position. Contrary to popular belief, your options are not limited to a traditional 4 year degree. You can use your benefits for a wide array of programs; day & night, part & full time, degree & certification, long term & short term. It is vital to know that there are other options available and you can most likely find one that suits your specific situation.

Examples:

  • Traditional college degree plan which takes around 4 years full time.
  • IT certification training that takes around 3 months of night classes after work.
  • *For more information on the difference between these two, check our blog Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In Your Future

4. How strong is the demand for workers in this field?

When looking into a career this should be one of the main factors you consider. This is because the demand for a particular field can be predicted and will dictate how your career in that field pans out. If the outlook is weak, you will have a tough time not only finding a job but advancing in that field. It the outlook is strong, you will not only have an easier time finding a job in that field but you are more likely to advance and make more money in that field throughout your career.

Examples:

  • Information Technology, there is is a predicted 3.5 million job openings in cyber security alone by 2021.
  • Solar installers demand is set to increase over 105% in the coming years.
  • Leather and allied product manufacturing is set to decline 37.1% by 2022

5. How much money do you want to make?

This may seem like the most obvious of all the questions, but is it one that you have given real consideration?  It comes down to balancing what you enjoy doing and what pays you enough to live the lifestyle that you want. Some people would like to make as much money as possible and work as much as they need to make it happen while others may be looking to lead a more simple life. Understanding what you want from the beginning of your transition can really help how your life turns out in the end.

Examples:

No matter the education path you choose, there are some necessary questions you should ask before committing to any institution.

  1. Does this institution accept military benefits?
  2. Does this program qualify for college credit? Is it American Council on Education credit recommended or otherwise accredited?
  3. What kind of support does this institution offer?
  4. What kind of guarantees does this institution offer?
  5. What is the success rate or “placement rate” for graduates of this program?
  6. What kind of career assistance does this institution offer beyond the program horizon?
To help you evaluate the institutions that you visit, we developed questions worksheet for you to bring with you to each visit and a decision helper to help you compare your different options. Download the worksheet for free by completing the form below!

*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

Military Transition Question Helper
Military Transition Questions

Download the Veteran Worksheet Now!

Why is getting into IT worth looking into for any veteran transitioning out of the military?

  • As an IT practitioner, you’ll have great job security and plenty of room for advancement
  • IT positions from entry level to advanced are well paying and salaries are only expected to rise.
  • Most skills can be translated into an IT position (from hands-on positions to technical positions). There are many areas of IT to get into.
  • Military benefits will most likely cover the cost of the training and most of the time training will only use a fraction of your benefits.
  • Less time training and more time making money. Compared to traditional education, you will spend significantly less time learning which allows you to spend more time making money and gaining experience.

Good Luck with Your Transition!

We hope that the information provided can help guide you towards a fulfilling and lifelong career whether it be in IT or another field. As a veteran who has made it through their time in the military, we applaud you and thank you for your service. We recommend that that you take each question into account and consider all of your options before making a decision.

Considering that a large portion of our employees is military veterans, we empathize with what you are going through and want to aid ease this process. This life-altering decision does not have to be one that you make alone. Here at LeaderQuest, our goal is to partner with you in making this decision and guide you throughout the whole process.

If you are interested in transitioning into the IT industry please click the button below, fill out a contact form, and a Career Adviser will contact you about your future. Thank you for your service and good luck!

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