Helping military families make the switch to civilian life
Here's how to help a neighbor, friend or family member who is transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Every year, about 250,000 service members and their families experience the transition from military to civilian life. The adjustment can be tough. In addition to navigating new communities, they're looking for jobs and figuring out the civilian healthcare system. Some are also managing the impact of deployments.
Want to help? Here are some ideas
- Reach out. Don't wait for a military family to happen into your world. Ask around to find them. Loop them into your carpool and online groups that share information about local services. Invite them over.
- Plan a gathering. Plan an ice cream social for the new kids. This could help them find a new friend group.
- Help with job connections. Don't forget that both partners likely need support. Spouse’s career opportunities could be negatively impacted due to frequent moves. If you're hiring, find candidates through groups like Military Hire, Military Spouse Employment Partnership or Hire Military.
- Share what you know about health care. Are you well-versed about health care? The military health care system is very different than civilian health care. Be available to share your experiences and how you navigate the system.
- Encourage volunteering in the community. Military families have already given so much. When these families get involved in the local community, their return to civilian life might be just a little easier. Find opportunities that you might be able to do together.
- Other ways to help. Check The Military Family Research Institute’s How to Help series for more resources and ways to help.
Making the military transition to civilian life
As you are transitioning out of the military, there are many things that might need to be thought through — you don’t have to go through this time alone. There are resources available to assist you in making this transition as easy as possible.
One of the first things veterans look for after leaving the military is employment — finding a new career. It’s hard enough leaving the military, then add the task of finding new work. There are lots of resources to help navigate post-military careers. You’ll want to access as many resources as you can to help with finding a new career.
Do you need to further your education? If so you might have VA education and training benefits, including the Forever GI Bill, available that will pay for your education. There are “military-friendly” colleges and universities you might want to check out.
The federal Transition Assistance Program (TAP) can provide counseling to help you every step of the way as you make the transition to a civilian. Don’t try to go it alone. It's a great resource for self-assessment, career decisions and getting ready for your first day.
Resources for life after the military
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Transition Assistance Program
- MilitaryTimes Education & Transition
- Military Hire
- Military Families Learning Network
- Military Spouse Employment Partnership
- Hire Military
- Military One Source
- The Military Family Research Institute
- Transitioning Servicemembers Cheat Sheet
- Stand Beside Them
It’s going to take time to make the transition. If you’re the one making the move, take advantage of all the resources available. And once you are settled in to your new location, give it time to feel like home.