Posts in Military Transition
How To Make the Most Difficult Part of Military Transition A Little Easier

Who have you lost touch with along your journey through the military? A defining aspect of our culture is the shared adversity that forges deep relationships. Hardship strengthens those bonds. The team becomes greater than the self because of what each member is willing to give so that unit perseveres and achieves. These are the defining moments of the military experience. Soldiers become more than comrades. They become a band of brothers and sisters. They become family. And even when you leave the military, they are still your family.

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The Disability Trap in Military Transition

Why is there such a stark contrast between how society sees its warriors and its veterans? Why do we see ourselves so differently? Sometimes we feel inclined to point the finger at society. It seems easier to attribute the negative stereotypes to a civilian populace increasingly separated from the military experience, but if I'm being honest, it isn't their fault. It's ours.

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3 Signs That Tell You When It's Time to Leave the Military

I know you've asked yourself this question at least once during your journey through the military. You might have asked it each time that you received orders for a new duty assignment. Maybe you are asking yourself this question now as you consider uprooting your family for either an unattractive duty location or the prospect of another deployment. So, how do you know when the time is right to remove your body armor, unlace your boots, and remove the uniform that shaped your identity for the last decade or so?

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How to Write YOUR Commander's Intent for the Mission of Transition

The Commander's Intent facilitates disciplined initiative and decentralized execution for complex operations under evolving conditions. Stated another way - Intent provides focus when everything else goes to hell. The more dangerous the mission or uncertain the environment, the more important it is to understand and communicate intent. The final set of orders you receive from the military are the ones that separate you from the service. For you and your family, you have the more ambitious objective of achieving a successful reintegration back into society. So, in the tradition of everything you did while wearing the uniform: What is YOUR Commander's Intent for life beyond the military?

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How Would You Change the Military Transition Program for Senior Leaders?

I recently wrote an article about why transition is harder for senior military leaders(O4-O6, E8-E9, and W4-W5). That discussion and ensuing comments begged the question (which many of you have asked directly) about what a transition program should look like for senior military leaders. Great question, and well, here goes…

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Reintegration from the Inside-Out: How to Tell a Better Story about Life Beyond the Military

Given the relatively low unemployment rate, veterans don't seem to have a hard time finding a job. Given the high turnover and underemployment, they do have a hard time finding that sense of fulfillment and connection in life beyond the military. Perhaps we think that when we start a new job, we can just stop being the soldier. Changing your external reality in order to change your internal state of being doesn't work. Maybe we should invert that process. Successful reintegration from the inside-out is how we discover our sense of purpose, meaning, and connection in the right job for a better story about life beyond the military.

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A Healthy DOSE of Reality for Transitioning Military Leaders

One of the things we love about the military is our sense of belonging. We've grown accustomed to the trust and relationships within the ranks of our formations. Being in a close knit unit feels like … family. Once we hang up that uniform, we are disconnected from that family. Who would've thought that I would actually miss waking up at 0300 for the division run that started at 0630? The impact of departing the trusted, social network in the military has significant repercussions on the body and mind of a new veteran.

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Securing the Rights for the Next Generation of Veterans

When I wore the uniform, no date on the calendar had more meaning for me than the Fourth of July. I was inspired by the courage of colonial settlers who risked everything for the hope of a better life. They founded a new nation on the belief that we were born to be free. Ordinary citizens became the first soldiers to fight for that belief. We celebrate them as heroes in the birth of our nation, and for the next 242 years, soldiers have deployed to far away lands and dangerous places to protect and defend that belief. I may no longer wear the uniform, but I still feel that sense of connection to soldiers past and present.

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How to Conquer the Fear of Military Transition

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself as a leader? Maybe it was through sports or a similar activity from high school. Maybe you assumed a leadership role in your family or community. Perhaps it happened before you were even a teenager. You hardly noticed it because it didn’t really require you to do much of anything. You were just being yourself. Others were drawn to your energy. People were inclined to follow you. Through your leadership, you discovered a genuine passion to serve others. You believed that you could make a difference, so you did.

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Learning to Fly: A Metaphor for Leaving the Military

I always wanted to fly. It was the main reason why I volunteered for military service in the first place, and for the better part of 21 years, I did just that. I had the opportunity to fly three different types of helicopters (five if you count the A-L-M variants of the UH-60 Blackhawk). I flew during peacetime and combat. I executed nearly every mission a helicopter could perform. I thought that I was finished flying when I was permanently grounded for medical reasons, but I recently discovered that I had to learn how to fly all over again to find purpose and meaning in life beyond the military.

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3 Reasons Why 'Taking a Step Back' is Terrible Advice for Transitioning Military Leaders

When I went to my first career conference as a junior officer, I had 11 one-on-one interviews that resulted in 6 job offers. I crushed it! Some of the offers included starting salaries that exceeded what I was making as a captain at the time. My luck changed when I attended my second career conference as a retiring battalion commander. I didn't have any offers. I had three times the education, more than twice the leadership experience, and a resume crafted by one of the top business schools in the country, and yet I didn't have a single interview. Not one.

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How Do You Find the Right Job After Leaving the Military?

This question - or versions of this question - represents the number one thing I am asked by military leaders in the transition process. I think am asked this question so often because I demonstrated what not to do. I am that guy - I had 8 jobs over the course of 3 years. Future veterans don't want to repeat my mistakes, but I'll have you know that I am not alone!

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5 Things I Wish I Did During the First Year After Military Transition

I remember what it felt like to get that last stamp on my clearing papers. After more than two decades of service, the subtlety of that final act seemed somewhat anticlimactic, but I was finished! The day that seemed so elusive for so long had finally arrived. I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia. Like you, I had my fair share of difficult days, but I was grateful for the fond memories and the wonderful people I met through the military. I couldn't contain my smile as I walked proudly out of the personnel processing center for the last time.

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Setting Your Intentions for Re-Entry into Society

Your intentions matter. At the point of greatest uncertainty and fear, you decide how you will focus your actions and apply your energy. Regardless of how desperate the circumstances may seem in the moment, you have the power to set your intentions for the future. If you ignore or neglect the potential of this power, you have still made a choice. You simply default to the mercy of your situation. You become a victim of circumstance. Inevitably, you wind up lowering your expectations and settle for less. Whether you are trying to solve the problem of re-entry back into earth's atmosphere or re-entry back into civilian society, your intentions are everything.

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Why Leaving the Military is so Hard and 4 Rules to Get it Right

Connection. That is the reason why leaving the military is so hard. It all stems from our biological and psychological need for belonging. How powerful is our need for connection? Brene Brown, renowned author, social worker, and researcher, says "connection is why we're here, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and belonging is in our DNA. And so 'tribe' and 'belonging' are irreducible needs, like love." The military gives us a sense of purpose, but it also gives us the comfort and security of shared empathy that comes from connection.

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Leaving the Military? The 3 Things You Should Know Before You Begin Updating Your Resume

I have a unique perspective on military transition. I did twice. I also did it poorly, twice. The first time I left the military as a junior captain. I put my faith in a junior officer recruiting company to find the best job opportunity. By "best" I meant the option with the most prestigious title and highest paying salary. They did. Unfortunately, it was the wrong job for me, and within a year of my separation, I was miserable. To make matters worse, I was laid off when the tech bubble burst. It was a total disaster. My second transition was my retirement after 21 years of military service. Once again, I ended up in the wrong job. Once again, I was unemployed. Once again, I was miserable.

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