Sometimes Finding Meaning After The Military Means Not Looking For It

Here’s the eighth entry in our contest about finding meaningful work after the military.

Thor O’Connell writes: “I think the purpose and sense of meaning you have from serving in the military is rarely replicable in civilian life solely through your employment. Those that can replace that sense in their employment are very few and most of us have to find it in other ways.

Work is what enables me to do what I think is really important. Provide for my family, raise my kids, give back to the community. I tell vets to spend a year or two becoming technical and tactical experts in their chosen field.

After that, as bandwidth comes available, get involved. Pick a cause and volunteer —I don’t care if it is being a dog catcher in your town, picking up trash on the side of the road or joining the American Legion or Team Rubicon or your company’s veteran employee network. Get involved.

Help the guys transitioning behind you. Find the veterans a year or two ahead and ten years ahead in your field and get a sense of your path. Everyone gets out but it is up to you to find a way to continue to serve. Build your tribe and engage.”