I am still on active duty, and will remain in that status for a LONG time, but I have many friends that have been discharged from the service (some on their own terms and some that were kicked out) and I thought it would be good to know what exactly you need to think about before you make that transition from military to civilian life. So here we fucking go.
1. JOB/ SCHOOL
If you’re serious about getting out then you already know what you are going to do. Either you have a job lined up or a school that you are going to attend. A lot of people just assume that the day they get home they will just be able to walk up to a university and sign up for classes. This is not the case.
Here’s a newsflash: schools don’t give a shit if you were in the military or not. You still need to apply and send your transcripts in just like everybody else, and if you do not measure up they will deny you. One thing you need to check out is your SMART transcript.
For those that don’t know, a SMART transcript is a list of all the training you completed while serving and the college credit that that training is worth. You remember all those schools and dumb fucking power points you snoozed through? Yeah, well those actually earn you college credits. Based on your SMART transcript, you could be already half way to your AA degree and not even know it.
Probably the biggest and most important of things to consider. I mean shit, EVERYBODY has to worry about money, right? But if you’re getting out, exactly how much is enough? I mean the post 9/11 G.I. Bill will pay for your tuition and rent – that is if you plan on going to school, but how much money should you have saved? Well, of course the answer is the more the better, but what is a good number to have in mind? Based on talks with my ex-military buddies, about $10,000 for every month that Uncle Sam isn’t picking up the check for your rent and tuition.
That seems like a lot, and nobody joins the military for the pay, but if you plan a year in advance of your discharge that number is very realistic to achieve. Stop going out and blowing that money at the bar every 1st and 15th of the month, because if you don’t you will be in a world of hurt being a twenty-something year-old without a college education living with your parents.
This all depends on the reason why you decided to get out. For those of you that are absolutely sick and tired of the military, you might want to skip over this part. For everyone else, the reserves is a pretty good deal. One weekend a month and two weeks a year with a guaranteed paycheck and health care is not a bad idea if you ask me. So make sure you talk to a recruiter or a reserve representative before you get out and do whatever is required to transfer from active to reserve duty. But remember, just because it doesn’t feel like you are in the military anymore you still technically are. So hold off on planning that trip to Amsterdam. You still get piss tested and you still will get out if you pop for any illegal drug.
Ok, so if you do not plan on joining the reserves pay attention, Shit, even if you do, pay attention anyways. Before you get out, make sure you are reporting everything that is wrong with you to medical. Because if it is bad enough, you are entitled to a certain percentage of disability pay for the rest of your life. That ankle that bothers you during PT? That toothache you have but don’t want to go to dental because FUCK DENTAL? Hell, maybe you grew a third nipple after accidentally using someone else’s loofah in the command showers. GET ALL THAT SHIT CHECKED OUT. Get all the free teeth cleanings and check ups you can, because after you get out you will realize that that shit actually costs money. Either do that or move to Canada.
5. AGE DIFFERENCE
Your average veteran coming out of the military and into the civilian life is around 23. Your average college freshman going into their first semester is turning 19. You’ve traveled the world, done some epic shit, and more importantly you know how to handle your alcohol as well as be able to buy your own. You’re a veteran now. You may have busted guys’ balls before for telling “sea stories” around your command, but now it’s your turn and it is actually acceptable.
You’re a 23-year-old vet now surrounded by 19-21 year olds who are gonna ask you left and right, “What year are you?” When you tell them you’re a freshman, chuckle and show that crooked smile, because I guarantee they will ask why you’re so old. Once you tell them you’re a veteran, prepare yourself, because as long as you’re not a complete douche bag, you’re going to be drowning in the pussy juice, my friend!
Another difference you will probably notice is the higher level of maturity you have compared to your classmates. You served in the Armed Forces and were trained how to take a life while the guy sitting next to you in your Biology class was busy watching South Park and ripping bong hits. You have experienced different cultures and worked with people from all across the United States, so be patient when dealing with the younger and less experienced individuals.