By Robyn Grable
Why is transitioning so difficult for veterans?
Whether they served four years or 24, the military blankets the service member into a sense of purpose, a sense of service to something greater than self, and a sense of family when deployments or faraway duty stations take them away.
When it’s time to transition out of the military, the change can be traumatic. Leaving the comfort of the familiar — particularly when a veteran entered service straight from high school or college — means a sense of loss and feelings of vulnerability. Any level of loss can make a person feel anxious and afraid. Even if the decision to transition out is voluntary, the unknowns can be distressing both for the veteran and their family. With that loss a person experiences different stages of emotions. However, the process of moving through a transition does not always proceed in predictable stages. What helps is getting back to something you belong to and are part of.
A whole new world
Upon leaving the military, it’s a whole new world to veterans. No longer are certain decisions made for them, such as where they will live, what jobs they will do and even what they will wear. This new world seems full of promise, until reality sets in and the job searches go months without any results.
This leaves veterans without a sense of purpose, financially stressed and questioning their worth when just a short time ago, they held one of the most important jobs: protecting our freedom. The longer this transition goes on, the more impact it has on veterans and their families.
The solution? Connecting veterans to purpose through employment more quickly and more efficiently.
Finding purpose again
Veterans find themselves with amazing opportunities to pursue their passions or entirely new careers because veterans learn more than technical skills in the military. They’ve learned initiative, leadership, adaptability, and resilience. Both the technical and soft skills gained throughout their military service are transferable to a multitude of civilian occupations — not just those that match their military occupation titles.
So, for a veteran who spent the past four years as a cyber operations technician but who has a passion for photography, now is the time to use those transferable skills for that passion.
For employers, if you have the opportunity to interview a veteran, don’t make assumptions based on his or her military occupation title. Make the assumption there are transferable skills in that veteran and do the right thing for your organization — contact the veteran for an interview.
Purpose is powerful and can do much to ease the transition from military to civilian life. The path to purpose looks different for everyone. A veteran must find what he or she enjoys and use transferable skills to go after those passions. Find organizations that serve those passions, and network with others already doing the work you want to do.
Know your skills profile and be proud of it. You’ve earned it.
Robyn Grable is founder and CEO of Veterans Ascend, a program that matches veterans to employers based on skills. To learn more go to https://veteransascend.com/, call 864-887-5865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.