(This article by Lacey Langford, AFC®, originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
Separating or retiring from the military is a transition that affects the whole family, one that can cause a shift in careers, communities, and identities. For a successful transition, develop your strategy and execute it as soon as possible before leaving the military.
How would you define a successful transition out of the military?
“Begin with the end in mind,” wrote Stephen R. Covey in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Each member of the family should set goals. How do you see your career and education? How do you want to spend free time? Create a plan for employment, education, where to live, and family trips.
Get Your Finances in Order
Transitioning your career away from the military will change your income, benefits, and expenses. Start by reducing your debt with the goal of freeing up cash and building savings, so you have a buffer as you adjust to a new budget. Plan for future expenses, like an increase in taxes or a reduction in income, to avoid financial problems later.
Before the family changes over to civilian life, begin developing your non-military network. Fostering new friendships and connections will give you support in your new communities, schools, and jobs.
Servicemembers and veterans might want to connect with fellow veterans in their community. Military spouses can connect with others through professional organizations and their interests and activities in the community. Kids can build friendships through sports and hobbies.
[RELATED: More From MOAA on Networking]
Because the experience of leaving the military will be different for everyone, what one person is feeling now might be different from others in the family. Communicating with one another is key to helping each other navigate the changes.
Set up time to talk as a family. Have everyone set goals and share what they want through the process. For kids, keeping up time with friends and favorite activities might be important, while for military spouses, priorities could be building up savings and securing a job.
When family members understand each other’s goals, it’s easier to stay on the same page. Starting to communicate and plan early for the future needs and wants of the household will help give each family member a positive outlook on what’s to come.
Lacey Langford, AFC®, writes on military spouse and family issues.
Upcoming MOAA Transition and Career Events
- Feb. 27: MOAA Seminar: Maximize Your Overall Compensation Package
- March 22: Military Executive Transition Seminar (MOAA HQ, Alexandria, Va.)
- March 28: MOAA Webinar: Does Company Size Matter?