Many struggle to find purpose after their service.
You have purpose.
You have options.
You are not alone.
There are so many routes you can go post-service. They do not need to be federal jobs. They do not need to be public service. You can do anything you want with your career. You don't even need a career. You need to be happy.
Evaluating post-military career opportunities can be a tough period to endure. For me, finding a career when I knew I was about to separate from the military was one of the hardest transitions of my life. What it really came down to for me, was happiness. I did not want to be miserable anymore.
No amount of benefit, perk, or reward could attract me to a career. However, the professional answer would be to consider all factors. I believe that is absolutely true and others should consider these factors when searching for long term job opportunities.
A lot of people seek careers based off of the compensation perspective. I do not see it that way. For the six years I was in the Marine Corps, I had mixed emotions about the type of life I was living. I had good moments with good people, but I also had some very wretched terms. I reenlisted after my initial contract due to the worry of separation with no plan. Luckily on my sixth year, I had a plan.
My last year in the military I was in an administrative role with no opportunity for deployed operation. Since I was a desk jockey, I figured I would prepare over the next year by investing in myself. I started reading business books, taking college classes, and finding any supplemental services I could locate through base resources. One of these resources was the boots to business class. This helped me find the resources I needed to start my own company. I started, operated, and stuck with this company during my final year of military service. To this day, this is still my primary occupation and I love it.
Though I enjoy running this company, I wanted to continue service. Whether that was a police officer, firefighter, or an EMT/Paramedic, I needed something I enjoyed. At this point I had already attempted service through the armed forces and found little to no significant intrinsic return. I was not happy.
Maintaining attendance with my daily duties in the military, I found an opportunity to be a volunteer firefighter during my final year in. This had little requirement of attendance and I could train during my off time. During this period, the outbreak of corona virus put the military on lock down, requesting essential employees only. The rest of us were to remain in place. For me, this was at my residence outside of base. This gave me the opportunity to attend training at the fire department doing full days with training until active service was resumed.
About 6 months away from the separation of the military, I found a passion for the fire service through this volunteer department. I was given the opportunity to attend a weeknight academy and earn a firefighter certificate within a month of my separation. Towards the end of the academy I was given the opportunity to attend a local fire department’s testing for employment. I still maintained the physical standards of the military, earning one of the highest scores on the agility test. From this, I earned a board interview with the captains of the department. This was roughly two months away from separation.
After waiting roughly a month, I found out that I had an interview with the chief of the department. This was lining up perfectly with my transition out of the military. After a quick interview and a few signatures, I was hired. I was the first selection for one position out of hundreds of other applicants. Five days after separation, I was working my first day as a firefighter.
Not all transitions are that smooth, but you can definitely make it smoother than getting out with no plan. Sit back and think about where you want to be with your life. Find your bliss. Chase it.
In conclusion, not everything goes as planned. I wanted to serve 20 years in the military and retire with full benefits. The quality of life was diminishing my personal life. I was gone for months at a time and it was not what we wanted for our family anymore. For those doing their full 20, go kill it. I seriously hope the best for you. For others, sometimes things just do not work out. This is why happiness is the only thing I look at when considering a career.
Enjoy your gift of life. Find your happiness.
One Team. One Fight.