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Help for Transitioning Veterans

You will be astounded to discover how many resources are available for Veterans transitioning into civilian life.  Whatever your needs, from employment to health care to social services, you can find a resource to assist you as a veteran.  Think of it as the nation’s grateful thanks for your service to the country!

Employment Resources for Veterans

You have served your country and gained an abundance of marketable skills and training, and now it’s time to put those talents to work in the world outside the Armed Forces.  It can feel a little overwhelming, particularly to a service member who may have joined straight from high school without having experienced the practice of job seeking, resume writing, interviewing, and so on.  You have no reason to worry, though, as there is a broad range of resources available to former members of the military in seeking and securing jobs in the civilian world.

There are many career paths in the civilian world which specifically put to use the training and experiences you have gained in the Armed Forces.  Think along the lines of jobs in law enforcement, careers with the Transportation Security Administration or Security Clearance, careers with Correctional Institutions, jobs in retail Loss Prevention or Private Security, or (depending on the specifics of your own experience and training during your military career) positions in Aerospace, Defense, Engineering, Health care and Nursing, Maintenance and Mechanics, or Teaching and Education.

Translate your military skills to their civilian applications, and you should have a bang-up resume to submit with your job applications.  Writing the resume itself may be a first time experience for you if you have always held your jobs through the Armed Forces, but there are numerous resources to help you format and compose the resume best suited for application to the civilian jobs you have in mind.  Take a look at template and sample resumes available online to gather ideas about formatting, appearance, the type of information included, and how that information is presented.    You will want to include bullet-point listings of your education and trainings, job titles and positions (with a brief, single sentence description of your responsibilities and skills used in each), and information about your accomplishments—awards or recognitions you have won, special projects or operations you completed or led, leadership positions for which you have been recognized, and so forth—with a brief descriptor of any item which may not be familiar to a civilian reader.  Make use of the “Translate Your Military Skills” tool, which allows you to enter the positions in which you served in the military, and then see a list of the skills associated with those positions, as they could be written and used in a civilian application for employment.  Don’t underestimate the value of your military experiences as they will appeal to prospective civilian employers.

Network with other veterans!  As you transition from military to civilian life, do not lose sight of the fact that, as a member of the Armed Forces, you have a ready-made and built-in network of contacts that have already transitioned into the community.  Do not be shy about reaching out to other veterans and members (former and present) of the military service to make inquiries about job openings, ask for recommendations and job ideas, and make the most of the existing social network.

You might also consider looking out for Career Expos and Job Fairs which cater specifically to veterans and former members of the military, subscribe to the Veteran Jobs Newsletter distributed by military.com, and check out the database of Military-Friendly Employers.  Many prospective employers are happy to hire members of the Armed Forces, not only because of their skills and experience, but because of the work ethic, personal discipline, and organizational awareness of those with military experience.

Entrepreneurship Resources for Veterans

Perhaps as you transition from military life to civilian life, it is time to go after that dream you have always had of opening your own business.  As an Armed Forces veteran, there are a number of resources available to you as you embark on your adventure of entrepreneurship.

You can also hit upon ways to educate yourself, particularly given the wide range of resources now available to you online.  Look for newsletters and social networking groups intended for veterans and for entrepreneurs— and especially those resources which are aimed to people like you, who are both of those.As you formulate your business plan, do not neglect the opportunities of the social networking possibilities available to you as a former Armed Forces service member.  Network with other veterans as you pursue possibilities regarding business opportunities, potential partnerships, suppliers, workers, andprospective clientele.  You have a ready-made and built-in network of contacts that have already transitioned into the community, so do not be shy about reaching out to other veterans and members (former and present) of the military service to make inquiries or float proposals.

Consider leveraging your status as a veteran when you pursue funding possibilities for your new business.  There are a number of loan resources available to former members of the military, including lending businesses—such as Patriot Express—that deal exclusively with a clientele of veterans.  Research options available through the Small Business Administration, which has recently begun backing programs specifically targeting veteran entrepreneurs. Partnering with universities and lending institutions, the Small Business Administration has created avenues for entrepreneurial veterans to launch their own businesses and succeed with them.  The administration has created a specific branch devoted to assisting veterans, with a website developed for the Small Business Administration Office of Veteran Development.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also has a website and resources devoted to entrepreneurial veterans, with a website which can be found atCenter for Veteran Entrepreneurs.   Whatever your previous experience with business operations, you will be able to leverage these resources to gain the information and experience you need, and get your new business planned, funded, networked, and successfully off the ground.

Educational Resources for Veterans

First and foremost, consider the educational opportunities afforded by your veteran status.  You may wish to consider pursuing a business degree to gain the additional expertise needed to operate a business, or even a trade school to achieve the certifications and credentials needed for the occupation you have in mind.  As a veteran, you may be eligible for VA loans from the federal or your state’s government, for tuition assistance, for benefits under the GI Bill, or for other educational support programs tailored to the needs and experience of former military service members.  Many state schools offer discounted tuition for veterans, and you may also qualify for educational loans which are available because of your veteran status.  An online learning program may be best suited to your schedule and needs, and there are now a large number of accredited online schools accessible to you.

If you contributed to the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) while on active duty, the government matched your contributions with double the amount you put in, and those benefits will be available to you for educational uses for ten years after you leave active duty.  Some states also offer veteran benefits, scholarships, or grants to former members of the military at state schools and universities; you can inquire at the admissions office of any of your state schools.

Health Care Resources for Veterans

As you plan to exit the military, one of the considerations you should contemplate is a plan to consider your health care coverage.  During your military service, one of the benefits you have enjoyed is the extensive TRICARE health care plan extended to all service members.  TRICARE offers a Transition Assistance Management Plan (TAMP) which may provide you with temporary coverage for several months after your exit from the military.  You can make inquiries about your eligibility and apply for extended coverage on the TRICARE website.

An additional program under which you might be eligible for extended health care benefits is the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).  If you apply for benefits under CHCBP within the limited time period after the expiration of your TAMP benefits, the CHCBP coverage may extend your health services for up to eighteen additional months.  Investigate the program and your own eligibility on the CHCBP web page.  These two transition programs should enable you to stay safely insured while making the shift toward civilian employment and insurance alternatives.

There are almost endless resources available for veterans in the civilian realm, from funding opportunities for education or business, to networking and informational services to help you adjust to your post-military life.  Whatever plans you begin to establish for yourself, you can be sure there are resources tailored to your needs, so be sure to find those resources and make the best use of them.  Your country wishes to thank you for your service—so don’t be shy about leveraging the resources available to you!

You can learn more about the Armed Forces industry.

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