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.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A U.S. Air Force combat controller will receive the nation's third highest award for valor this week for playing an essential role in two intense firefight missions against the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.

Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an airman with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing at Air Force Special Operations Command, will receive the Silver Star at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on Nov. 22, the service announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
Some dank nugs. (Flickr/Creative Commons/Dank Depot)

SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.

Read More Show Less

Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.

The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.

During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.

"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."

"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."

Read More Show Less
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters photo)

Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.

Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

Read More Show Less