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What to Expect from Civilian Life After Leaving the Military


The life that you lead after leaving the military is different for everyone. Getting through this transition is made easier by the many types of transitional programs offered by the VA. Attending one of the VA’s three day Transitional Assistance Programs (TAPS) will help you to decide on a career or pursue an education.

Planning your departure well ahead of time is always a good idea. For instance, if you plan to leave in three years, you have time to adjust to the idea of civilian life and to take advantage of training and education available to soldiers while on active duty. You should also save up as much money as you can. To get the most out of the GI Bill and the other programs offered to you as a Veteran, it is best to face civilian life with a full bank account.

The challenges of daily life can be overwhelming when you first leave the military. While on active duty, the military gives you a place to live, food, clothing, a job, friends and comprehensive health care. What the military doesn’t give you is freedom and choices. Once you leave the military the story is reversed — you have lots of freedom and choices but very little else. If you are like most service members, you joined the military relatively young so you may not have ever lived on your own “in the real world.” One good way to transition into civilian life is to go back to school. Whether you are enrolled at a University or in a training program, you will find that you have a chance to make new friends and this will start you on the path back to civilian life.

Often it is the little things that are the most difficult. Not saluting, having to buy and choose clothes every morning, and waking up too early with nothing to do are a few of the things that often feel foreign to new civilians. Don’t despair! You will adjust — it is just going to take time. If you are having even minor adjustment issues, it is a good idea to seek the help that is available to you through the VA. The VA is an outstanding resource and community and its sole purpose is to help former service members just like you.

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