Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
7 Habits You Need To Transition To The Civilian Workforce
My transition out of the military began with a sobering thought as I drove off base for the last time with my DD214 in the passenger seat, replacing the check-out sheet that I had been working on for the last few weeks. I reminisced on all of my "last" experiences: the last time I went to the range, the last Marine Corps ball, the last unit physical training, the last fitness report, the last time I put on a certain uniform.
For the last nine years, I have been a Marine --- I shaved every day, I got a haircut every weekend, I knew what I had to wear to work each day. The "needs of the Marine Corps" told me where I would go and what my job would be, but now I have to find a job of my own and determine where I want to live. I have to weigh location, schools for my kids, salary, benefits, and most importantly, job satisfaction. It is a brave new world and as much as a Marine will never admit, it is scary as hell.
Most military members of this generation joined the armed forces with great intent, few, if any, were forced or guilted into service. We supported two large wars for over a decade while maintaining a forward presence all over the world on land and at sea. Many of us deployed multiple times, worked late hours to get people ready and out the door to deploy, and did it more efficiently and effectively than anyone could have planned.
So now, while the task of transitioning out of the military might now seem daunting, remember these things as you enter the civilian world.
- Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn: Some of the best Marines with whom I worked had the most difficult time summarizing their accomplishments on fitness reports and on resumes. They ran large units, departments, and projects and felt guilty taking credit for the work. That is what effective leaders do: they give their workers the credit, but behind the scenes, they inspire their teams, they remove obstacles, and they set the example for success. Use your evaluations and awards to demonstrate your strengths and tell employers where you ranked among your peers. Don’t sell yourself short or you will likely end up with a job below your capabilities.
- Don’t discount the benefits and gross pay of the military: When I finally got a new job, my gross pay was higher than my military base pay, but my take-home pay was about one-third less. Once you factor in housing allowance, meal allowance, and free medical and dental, it is quite a bit of added pay that you probably have not yet considered in your new budget. Manage your expectations and those of your family because this reality will slap you in the face if you are not prepared.
- Don’t be offended if people don’t understand the military: Less than 1% of the American population has served or is serving in the military. Aside from the families and friends of service members, the other 99% have no clue what you did or understand the culture of the military. They will try to relate to you and they usually have the best of intentions, but they have absolutely no clue. They will call a Marine a soldier, they will ask an officer why he “enlisted” if he went to college already. They don’t know the difference in a second lieutenant and a lieutenant colonel. Don’t let this offend you. Their only frames of reference are war movies, video games, and documentaries. Use this time as an opportunity to teach them, and tell them all of the good that so many are doing right now for our country.
- Do tell your story: Tell those you meet about all of the places you have been, the people you have met, and the unique experiences you lived. Most people will be enlightened to hear something different from the troubled veterans narrative that they see on television and in movies. Your story is an integral part in bridging the gap between service member and civilian that is crucial to the future of how our veterans are viewed and whether people care about the policies that affect us.
- Find a veteran, help a veteran: I found my job through a reference from a Marine I served with in Iraq, and I have referred other former Marines with whom I have worked. We have an incredible network of veterans doing amazing things in the workforce and many companies are finally starting to see and reap the benefits of hiring veterans.
- Respect your human resources and safety departments. You may discount the need or efficacy of similar departments in the military, but they can be an incredible resource in the civilian realm. In the military, you likely had a squad leader, platoon sergeant, or first sergeant who would take care of every problem you could think of, or at least direct you to someone who could help. Once you transition out, your human resources department can be incredibly helpful for your own needs and those of your employees. Beyond the obvious support with pay and benefits, HR employees can help you get to know your local area, the culture of your workforce, and even help coach underproducing employees. Also, unlike safety representatives in the military who seem to only really care about wearing your glow belt in hours of darkness, civilian safety reps (especially in industrial or warehouse environments) will help you navigate the complex world of workplace safety regulations, and keep your people and equipment safe and operating productively. Get to know each of these departments right away and your life will be much better.
- And finally, be outgoing: Show employers that you can have fun and still get work done. Show them you’re as cool as the other side of the pillow when chaos is chasing you down. Get to know those who work with and live around you --- this isn’t base housing where friends and neighbors are issued to you. Serve in the community and as a community liaison for any of the events that your company is involved with. Be positive, look for opportunity to share your skills with your new coworkers and throw out one of the millions of jokes you heard in the service (but, maybe run it by a trusted civilian friend first for appropriateness).
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."