Transitioning veteran

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Top 4 hardships you face after transition

June 13, 2018 - 4:29 pm

Change isn’t easy.

But it’s necessary.  It’s part of life.  You can’t grow without it.

Transitioning out of the military and into civilian life is the same way.  You know it’s time to leave and start a new chapter in your life, but it’s not going to be easy.   There are challenges along the way.  But if you know what they are, and if you prepare for them, you may be able to nip them in the bud.

Here are the 4 top hardships you’ll face in transition:

1. A steady paycheck.

Certainly, getting a new job is your priority. The military has provided you with a steady income from day one.  You don’t fear getting fired.  You know how much your paycheck is each month.  

You must now find a job that can support your new family budget taking into account healthcare and housing allowances.  These large expense items have largely been provided for free or at a huge discount.  Your new paycheck must be able to accommodate those expenses for your entire family.

Lessen the stress by itemizing your current and expected expenses before you transition.  Make a budget now so you’ll know how much you need to make when you get out.  

2. Healthcare

Healthcare is far from free.  Some companies provide healthcare to their employees, but only at a discounted rate.  Your days of free healthcare for you and your family are over.  Because of the Affordable Healthcare Act, shopping for healthcare on the common market isn’t that hard.  It’s not hard, but it is expensive.  Price out what options are available to your family, and calculate how much it will cost before you exit.  Add that to your budget.

3. Housing and food allowances

Your bi-monthly paycheck included your pay plus your allowances.  Your new paycheck will only include your pay.  Minus taxes.  No more subsidized housing or food allowances.  So make sure you factor your housing costs and food into that budget.

But just as your BAH was based on your zip code, where you live after transition will affect your housing costs.  Do your research in advance.  Check out housing costs in different areas where you are interested in living.  San Francisco has high paying jobs… but among the highest housing in the U.S.  Don’t get caught off guard moving to a location where the housing costs will drown you.

4. Your mental health

This is the biggie.

Paychecks, healthcare and housing can stress you.  Starting a new career will certainly stress you. 

Add to that a fallen friend.  Your own injury.  A new limitation. An experience.  PTSD. The loss of mission and relationships.

And that can lead to depression.

Knowing that you’ll be carrying all this emotional baggage on your new journey is the first step.  Be ready to ask for help.  Talk to friends and family about how to manage the stresses.  Get professional help to lessen the burden. 

Knowing in advance the challenges you face during transition can help you anticipate how to manage the bridges you need to cross in the coming months.

Find help here for resources on career, health, education and more to help you manage the stress of transition.

University of Maryland University College is a proud partner of Connecting Vets.