The Great Transition…Isn’t Always So Great

By Brian Posten, Business Development Officer at Air Force FCU, USAF Senior Master Sergeant (retired)

At age eighteen, I realized I needed a major life change, and I knew hanging around where I grew up wasn’t the answer. So, in 1988, I joined the Air Force. My intention was to do four years and get out.  When my four years were coming to a close, I realized military life was perfect for me.  Adventure, discipline, education, and travel—not to mention, I also received a paycheck!

After 23 years of dedicated and honorable service, I transitioned from the military. I assumed I was ready to start another chapter in my life, but the problem was I didn’t know what to do next. It had been more than 23 years since I needed to look for a job. I thought employers would be knocking my door down to hire me since I had valuable skills, and I was very successful in the military. Apparently, this was not the case. 

While not prepared for a job search, I took some steps to prepare financially. I paid off all my bills, minus the mortgage. My wife and I saved money in case of an emergency, and we made sure we had a strict budget to cover our daily bills. We knew we would need to tighten our belts a little bit, but we were prepared for this change in income. 

Mentally, things started to wear me down. With no job, no calls, and no idea how to look for a job, I pretty much felt unneeded, and I knew I didn’t want to try and survive off my retirement income alone.

Fortunately, there is life beyond a military transition! It has been over four years since my retirement, and I am very involved in the community. There are now programs to assist those transitioning from the military. The USO RP6 program is one of the newest programs that I am aware of, and is designed to assist servicemembers through issues associated with transition. Your installation also provides resources, so make sure to take advantage of those prior to your separation to help alleviate some of the stress.

Networking in the community was critical for me. You can volunteer with a non-profit, a chamber of commerce, or get involved in the community and start networking. Once you are out in the community, you will realize there are a lot of people who want to help with your transition as you begin the next chapter in your life. Sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring will not work. As a previous military member, you have an arsenal of skills that civilian companies are looking for. Learn how to market and communicate these skills to potential employers.

So, to recap, learn from my experience and follow these s tips to prepare for your military transition:

  1. Pay off as many bills as you can.
  2. Have a substantial emergency savings reserve.
  3. Prepare your military transition budget and tighten your belt!
  4. Create and polish your resume for the civilian world.
  5. Network!
  6. Learn how to market yourself.

Most importantly, keep your family and your friends close. Although you may feel you can handle things on your own, there are times even the strongest of the strong need support. One day, you will be able to return the favor and assist another transitioning military member.  Stay positive, stay strong and never hesitate to ask questions or ask for guidance.

Learn more about Brian’s story by listening to his interview on the KLRN Veterans Voices project or view the video.



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