Sarah Maples is a former Air Force Intelligence officer (2000-2007) and an Afghanistan veteran. She is the creator of the veterans resource blog, After the DD-214, and currently serves as the Director, National Security and Foreign Affairs, for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Sarah has an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a Master's in Strategic Intelligence from American Military University, and a B.A. in German and Russian from Tulane University.
It took me a long time to join a veteran service organization. To be honest, before I joined one, I didn’t fully understand the value of being part of these groups. You may have similar reasons for not joining: You may think they aren’t relevant to you, or maybe you think you won’t be welcome. Or that you have to wait until you leave active duty to join. Or maybe you simply picture a bunch of old guys in funny hats sitting around drinking and smoking in a dark and dingy bar.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Hunting for a job is special kind of torture. Hours spent searching job announcements, writing a dozen versions of your resume, surviving nerve-racking interviews, and then … the waiting. Even when you get hired, there’s no guarantee that the job is really the right one for you. It has to be, without a doubt, one of the most stress-inducing and time-consuming endeavors we embark on in our post-military life. If traditional methods of finding a job aren’t working for you, consider one of the less-often considered, but often just as effective avenues, such as taking an internship. Internships, fellowships, work study, and even volunteering, can, if used properly, lead to full employment and have certain advantages over the more traditional routes.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kate Maurer
Just before Veterans Day, and slightly over seven years after leaving the service, I finally had my first doctor’s appointment with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Like most vets, I’d heard both positive and negative stories about VA health care and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d have to say my experience was somewhere in the middle and, perhaps most importantly, very informative.
A couple of months ago, my best friend, a very smart and capable woman, was struggling with the decision to return to school. She joined the Air Force after earning her graduate degree, is currently a major in the reserves, and, on active duty, we served several deployments together. Even with all of this experience, the thought of going back to school still filled her with trepidation.
Your transition out of the military can be complicated. It seems pretty easy at first: complete your out-processing checklist, get your DD-214, maybe say a little “hooray” as you drive out of the gate. But what comes after those things can be difficult or confusing.