How veterans can make a civilian job work for them

Connecting Vets
October 21, 2019 - 5:22 pm
Chenega MIOS

Chenega MIOS


By US Army veteran Heather Lacroix,  Special to

Like most military members, I spent my time in the service being available 24x7x365. Everything was about the mission, and I was ready, willing, and able to support whenever I was needed. And not just me, I served with like-minded soldiers: the level of commitment was admirable. Adjusting to life after the military was difficult. For me, transitioning into the civilian workforce felt like culture shock and brought up a lot of internal questions regarding my own identity.

The Army was my first professional job after college and, frankly, the people I served with set the bar high. We had strong connections, after bonding through the hardships, sacrifices, and triumphs of serving. I expected the same connections outside of the military; however, that sense of comradery proved to be a hit or miss quality in the workspace. I seemed to either love where I was working, or not! I learned early on in my post-military career that I needed to define what I would be picky about regarding my work environment. I use four basic guidelines:

  1. Support a purpose that I believe in
  2. A culture that fosters high-performance teamwork
  3. Respect for those I work for and with
  4. Work must not feel like work

At first, I used these guidelines to observe and assess where I worked, but I quickly started to incorporate them into my decision-making process for job selection too. I created questions to ask interviewers about their team and work environment. I also use these guidelines to lead my staff as well as what I look for in new managers. I add more specific guidelines based on certain situations, e.g., commute time, work hours, and other factors as appropriate. I have found that when I follow these guidelines when choosing my professional path, I can find the comradery and connection I loved so much about serving in the Army. What guidelines have you established for your post-military profession? 

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