In September of 2010, just four months after graduating High School, my husband left to join the Navy. For the next 10 years it would be hard transitions, long distance, lots of moves, and an indescribable workload. Yes, it would come with lots of highs and many lows but 2020, the year of the pandemic would arrive and we would begin to embark on our way out of the Navy and into full civilian life, once again.
After so many years living the Navy life you can imagine the overwhelming emotions of fear, anxiety, worry, joy, and excitement that took over. Though military life was far from easy it did come with it’s perks. The peace of mind of job security and good health insurance for the whole family, opportunities to travel the world, and the lifelong friends you meet along the way softened the blow that was usually caused by the lifestyle. The time will come, though, where you meet the end whether it be through a contract expiring or retirement and there are a considerable amount of tasks to be considered to help ease the transition.
Easing the transition from military life
This is a week-long class required by the Navy for exiting service members to take. You will get out of this as much as you put into it and I strongly suggest taking it seriously. The course goes over everything from resume building to what to look for in good insurance. Interview practice, job hunting resources, they even have you come dressed in what you think is acceptable for a job interview so they can critique your choice and provide feedback. It’s basically the class that all high schools should offer as it is meant to help prepare you for “the real world.” As a bystander, I could see how overwhelming and stressful it was for my husband some days, but looking back on it now I can see how helpful and beneficial it was for him as we officially got out of the Navy.
Apply, Apply, Apply
And not just for actual jobs. My husband applied himself in the Navy to get qualified in as many things as he could to amp up his experience and better his chances at a variety of job opportunities. Then, apply, apply, apply to all of the jobs. We sat down and discussed where we would like to live (and we didn’t narrow it down to just one place), and what my husband would like to do for possibly the rest of his life. We both sat in front of a computer screen and began the search and he began filling out applications.
If you weren’t already doing it before, be sure to start at least six months prior to your exit date. You really cannot foresee any future big expenses. Maybe your spouse doesn’t land a job right away or you run into serious expenses trying to sell/buy your house. Have a safety net that you can rely on if the time calls for it. Also, besides your new house, try to avoid unnecessary large expenses. That new car or luxurious vacation may look really nice as a “getting out” reward but make sure it’s really worth the cost before you invest.
Be a supportive spouse (like even more than before)
This would be the first time my husband applied for a job since working at a grocery store in high school and he didn’t even have to fill out an application for that. It was my job to be as supportive as possible. I’d read any emails he wrote before he sent them. I helped him pick out his interview clothes. We discussed all the pros and cons of job offers to the nitty-gritty and just really encouraged him through all of his nerves and worries. It was not always easy for me, but it was the role that was most important for me during the transition.
I’m sure this will be different for every family transitioning out of military life but this is what worked so well for us. We were fortunate enough to move back to our home state close to our families (not too close) and my husband landed an unbelievably incredible job. It was a few months of really hard work and a lot of stress that the pandemic did NOT help with, but it all paid off in the end and we couldn’t be happier.