By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 11, 2015 – Service members have the discipline, maturity and knowledge that employers clamor for, but that doesn’t mean transitioning to the civilian workforce is easy or doesn’t require work, said Army Col. James P. Isenhower III, who directs Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s Office of Reintegration.
The reintegration office has been studying what transitioning service members need to do to achieve successful reintegration into civilian life, said Isenhower, who noted the office published its conclusions contained in a two-part article published yesterday and today in Task & Purpose.
“First and foremost, we realized that successful reintegration is an individual responsibility, one that requires understanding, planning and deliberate execution,” the report says.
And, whether service members spend one tour on active duty or 40 years, transition to civilian life requires care and work, according to the report.
Transition requires a plan, according to Joint Staff officials. “A significant amount of your transition planning should be spent thinking through what you want to be and do as a civilian,” officials said.
Personnel should take the time to research what they want to do and where they want to do it, officials said. Also take time to see what’s available in various locations to help transition -- the Labor Department, local and state resources and so on.
Also don’t be afraid to let people know you are a veteran, officials said.
Officials advise service members rehearse their pitches. “Train for this life-changing event like you do for any military mission,” an official said.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, officials said. Get a mentor in the civilian world. That person can tell you what employers are looking for, how to adjust your resume and how to negotiate with potential employers.
Transitioning service members must manage their expectations. They are not owed a job just because they served in the military. Transitioning service members are going to have to earn their reputations in a new work environment just as they would in a unit.
Unit commanders also have responsibilities to transitioning service members, officials said. Commanders must hold service members responsible for planning the way forward.
Leaders are required to certify transitioning service members are career ready, officials said. If they are not, they need to direct them to agencies that can help.
Leaders should consider providing transitioning service members opportunities to attend civilian skill training programs before transition, officials noted.
Leaders also need to remember the role an effective transition plays in preserving our all-volunteer force. Helping transitioning service members set conditions for success out of uniform reinforces the value of military service," officials said.