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

Transition
Photo by Sgt. Michael Blalack

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.

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The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.

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Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

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That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

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"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

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The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

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And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

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