Forget These 4 Myths About Civilian Life Before You Get Out Of The Military


It is not just the military that requires you to be tough and work hard. You will need to hustle no matter where you go. If you are getting out of the military pretty soon (or ever), do your best to get over the misconceptions about what to expect as a civilian.

Most of us make a lot of avoidable mistakes, but we don’t have to. Take your transition seriously, so you can actually enjoy all those freedoms that everyone loves to talk about.

Related: Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Boot Again In The Civilian World »

This requires some independent thought. Start by jettisoning the whole “Thank you for your service” stuff. With that out of the way, tackle each of the major myths that betray folks when they’re getting out.

Myth 1: Transition is easy.

This is ass backward. Transition is a long, difficult process that takes months if you’re lucky, and years or even decades if you’re not. It’s one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. Expect that, and you’ll be starting your transition in the right mindset. It’s fine to hope that you find the right school and job without much work, but don’t count on it.

Myth 2: School is easy.

Whatever you have to say about private colleges (and I have plenty of opinions), the fact is that college is supposed to challenge you. Higher education helps you explore things you enjoy learning about, build networks of friends and colleagues, and expand your skills. That all takes effort, so you better be ready to work your ass off.

Myth 3: You have universal leadership skills.

Okay, yes, the military has taught you some leadership principles and skills. But if you take an airmen and put her in charge of a group of sailors, she is going to have a hard time. She will need time to adjust, right? That seems obvious. Well, imagine how much worse that would be if you had to adjust for leading civilians. You won’t be ready to go out of the gate right away.

Myth 4: Civilians don’t work hard.

In some twisted way, your time is worthless to the military. What I mean is the Defense Department doesn’t pay you overtime. You cost the same working 16 hours or just one. That leads to some pretty wasteful (and weird) behavior. People outside the military, on the other hand, tend to learn quickly how to work enough to justify their hourly wage. That may be pretty damn hard if you want to work in a competitive field. So prepare yourself.

If you want to sit down your mom’s house, smoke weed, and play Playstation then that’s fine. Just be honest with yourself that you just want to flush a year down the toilet. When you’re ready, come back to the list for a refresher, then go out there and start crushing it.

Photo by Sgt. Michael Blalack
(Courtesy of Jackie Melendrez)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Iron Mountain. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Iron Mountain is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.

Jackie Melendrez couldn't be prouder of her husband, her sons, and the fact that she works for the trucking company Iron Mountain. This regional router has been a Mountaineer since 2017, and says the support she receives as a military spouse and mother is unparalleled.

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