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My Next Mission: Navigating The Civilian Landscape For The First Time Outside The Military
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Charlie Bailey, Army veteran and Senior Director, Site Development & Operations, USO Pathfinder Program.
Following the unforeseen development of medical issues associated with injuries sustained in Mosul, Iraq, I quickly found myself being medically retired during the summer of 2016. It was not part of the plan. With 16 years in the Army leading specialized and multi-functional teams in the infantry and military intelligence branches, combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and multiple graduate-level degrees, I assumed that my family’s transition from military to civilian life would come naturally. I was wrong. Despite everything we had been through during my time in uniform, this was undoubtedly one of the most emotionally challenging and turbulent things that we had ever been through. For the first time in 16 years, we were alone. Furthermore, we had no idea how to navigate the civilian landscape in search of the opportunities and resources that would be necessary to ensure we landed softly on the outside.
Charlie BaileyCourtesy photo
First, I was very fortunate to have a personal network of former friends and colleagues that I had remained connected to, and that network was my lifeline. I reached out to multiple organizations hoping that they would provide a very personalized level of support that would be tailored to my situation and skillset. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that most of those organizations had neither the ability nor the bandwidth to deliver what they initially offered. What I needed was a personal connection to people who were genuinely interested in ensuring my family transitioned successfully.
Second, I was on a ticking timeline. While I realized that I needed to take advantage of everything the government was offering while I was still on active duty, my access to that support and those services would end the day that I took off my uniform. As is typically the case, there were resources available on the installation to help us find our way in the local community. Unfortunately, I was not aware of any organization that was willing to work with me and my spouse or had the ability to help us identify opportunities and resources regardless of our destination. Although the government programs and resources I had access to were valuable, they did not have the capacity to work with my wife and I on a personal level or to connect us to opportunities and resources that would support us in all aspects of our transition.
Furthermore, it was not just about me and a new job. Transitioning out of the military involves significantly more than that and it’s a family ordeal. Consider the fact that many (if not most) people transitioning out of the military are not actually landing in the local community; they are landing in some other part of the continental United States. I understand this aspect of the challenge very well: We were living in Hawaii when I transitioned; with a large family and the high cost of living, I knew that remaining on Oahu was not an option. As a result, we were forced to identify where we would land and what opportunities and resources were present in that community.
Additionally, my wife and children would be permanently departing from the ultimate gated community where everyone lived separate but similar lives and spoke the same language. They would need to make their way in the civilian world, living outside of an installation and next door to people who had no concept of or connection to the life they had lived previously. The challenge of transition was much larger than simply finding employment; we all needed support.
The Bailey familyCourtesy photo
My wife had mastered life in the military environment and her closest friends were also military spouses. While we had transitioned from one installation to another throughout my career, she had developed an innate ability to identify where everything was located at each new assignment and how to quickly develop a new social support system for both herself and our children. She had never done this in the civilian world and had no idea where to begin. My children were forced move from one school to another at the mid-year point, leaving the friends they had bonded with behind and forced to find new social circles. Regardless of age, this is no easy task, and I can only credit the resilience they had all developed throughout our time in the military for helping them confront the challenge directly.
Finally, I needed to find employment in the continental United States and had no idea where to turn. I was fortunate to have developed a network of friends, colleagues and mentors throughout my time in the military that I had managed to maintain contact with. After countless hours searching and applying for jobs in industries I was not entirely sure I wanted to be a part of, that network became my lifeline. I found the USO through a connection on social media and the rest is history. My first day of terminal leave was my first day with the USO and I have been there ever since. In fact, my first day on the job was the day the USO’s PathfinderSM Program began. Unfortunately, the network that I had access to is not something readily available to most service or family members that separate from the military. As a result, the sense of isolation that many of them experience during the transition lifecycle can be overwhelming.
Although I was not able to personally benefit from it, the USO’s PathfinderSM Program helps service and family members develop action plans for their transition that considers everything outlined above, and I consider myself blessed to be a part of it. In fact, the timing of my transition could not have been better as I now serve as the program’s senior director of site development and operations. In that role, I have an opportunity to help shape the only program out there that has both the willingness and ability to holistically support military service members and their families throughout the transition life cycle. While the USO has historically played a very different role in its support to the military, I am thankful that it has responded to such a critical need as it is uniquely positioned to ensure that every family separating from service has the support needed to ensure a successful transition.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."