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3 Keys To A Successful Transition To Civilian Life

We have studied this for years now. All of the veterans we have spoken to that managed to experience a smooth and successful transition to civilian life shared a few very specific experiences or strategies that were not present for people who have struggled through the process. Additionally, for those who struggled but eventually did find their footing, those same strategies emerged as playing a key role in their eventual success. What are those key elements for a successful transition? There are three:


A Sense of Purpose

Have a plan, Get Educated,
Find A Good Job, Start A Business, Etc…



Real Connections

Friends & Family, Colleagues, Others
with Similar Interests, Animals…

A Place to Call Home

Figuring out where to hang your hat,
with family, leasing or buying a home…


Years of research, talking with veterans who have made the transition from military service to civilian life has made very clear that there is a gap in the process of transition that allows some veterans to falter in their pursuit of success after service. We now know too that the most common pitfalls can be overcome by being prepared, making a plan and taking very specific steps to begin a new life after military service.

We’ve talked to people that had smooth transitions and to those that have struggled, from the highest ranking career officers to short-term enlisted soldiers. Probably the most helpful have been stories of siblings who join and leave the military on similar time tables, with similar service records. Very often, one will thrive after service while another struggles to find their place in the civilian world. It’s not uncommon at all – and the fact that siblings raised in the same home with the same upbringing can have such vastly different experiences was a great help to us in looking for a solution.


The 3 Keys

A Sense of Purpose – whether they went back to school, found a job that actually made good use of their experience and time in the military or maybe they started a business – having a new mission, something to focus on that has meaning and really matters to the veteran is one of the most important things you can do to  have a successful transition to civilian life.

Real Connections
– connectivity matters, whether it is a small group of friends, close family members, a professional network, even just members of a club or group. This is really not optional if you want to have a positive transition experience. If you are uncomfortable with other people, a dog or other kind of animal can provide initial companionship at first. In the military, you served with a band of brothers and sisters and the seeming loss of that tribe or clan can make it very difficult to get on with the business of building a new life with new goals and a fresh outlook.

A Place to Call Home – uncertainty around where to live after service is very common. It may seem simple to those that have not served, but learning how to find a lease home or buy a home, deciding whether to live with family or to have your own place – these are not always obvious decisions. Joining the military means never having to worry about where you’ll live because they tell you where to live. But, before you leave the military, they require at least an address so that the Veterans Administration can reach out to help with your benefits. Most veterans will list a family home first and then take some time to decide on where they’ll hang their hat. 


Skills After Service was created to help veterans and their family members address these three strategies along with all of the other challenges and opportunities that come with leaving the military and embarking on a new life in the civilian world. We know that the gap between service and civilian requires a pipeline, a plan. Before now, there has not been a clear process in place. That’s why we’re building the Transition Hub and plenty of free resources to help veterans and their families create their own new plan for the future.

There is no one right way to do it. Everyone must forge their own path according to their own definition of what success looks like. For some, that means getting a job, buying a home and settling in. For others, it might include starting a business, leasing and deciding on where to go next. And still others may choose to withdraw from standard or typical lifestyles, buy an RV and roam from place to place for the pure experience of it. Your version of success is the one we want to help you build on.

If you have already retired from the military and have already transitioned to civilian life, our tools and planning process can still work for you. It is never too late to reshape and redesign your own path.

If you have not yet left the military and are looking forward to try and create a plan – you’re already ahead of the game. Studies show that putting a plan in place BEFORE you actually leave the military gives you a much higher statistical advantage to avoid some of the common pitfalls and struggles that others may encounter. Either way, you have options.