Whether you are a spouse, parent, or friend, supporting a loved one transitioning out of the military can be a complex process. Over 200,000 men and women leave the military each year and go through what is known as civilian transition.
Read on to find out how you can help ease this process for your loved ones embarking on life after military service.
Give them time to adjust
Many individuals experience what is called “transition stress” when they first transition out of the military. This can happen when they have to make a significant change in their life, like entering a new career. During this period, they may struggle with negative emotions, such as anxiety, uncertainty, and depression.
They may also experience what is called “identity confusion,” meaning that they are questioning who they are as a person and what their next steps in life should be. Because this period is so critical, it is crucial that you give them the time and space they need to adjust.
No two people will experience this transition the same way, so it is important not to assume that they are experiencing the same emotions as you or know what to do next. Let them know that it is entirely normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this time. You should also let them know that it is not a reflection of their military service.
Listen to their concerns and help where possible
A loved one may express a wide range of emotions during the transition process. Let them know that feeling anxious, worried, and even angry is normal. Be open to listening to their concerns and addressing them. Let them know that you are there to help them with whatever they need. If they are worried about the financial aspects of transitioning out of the military, you can help by providing financial advice. Veterans are entitled to certain benefits and support during the transition process, such as healthcare and a pension. If your loved one is not aware of the benefits that they are eligible for, you can help them by informing them of the benefits they can receive.
Assist with getting the correct type of benefits and support
A veteran can receive different types of benefits and support during the transition process. These include the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, the VA health care benefits, and the VA pension. Ensure that your loved one is receiving the support they deserve and is aware of Veterans law to help them access everything available. This will help make the transition process easier. You can also help your loved one find support networks and organizations that can help them adjust to civilian life. Such organizations include groups and clubs for veterans, such as the Service Women’s Action Network, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. These networks can help your loved one find new friends and a sense of belonging and support.
Help them find employment or enter education.
If your loved one is leaving the military with some time remaining, they may have the option of joining the Guard or Reserves. These options help veterans continue to receive a paycheck while pursuing a civilian career. If your loved one is transitioning out of the military and entering civilian life, they may need to return to school to receive the training and education they need for their new career. Ensure they know about the Veterans Benefits Administration Educational Benefits program, which can help pay for education costs.
A successfully transitioned military member will feel confident and capable and be able to take on life’s challenges after service. Help your loved one prepare for their transition by being supportive, understanding, and patient. With these tips, you can ensure that your loved one has the best chance of transitioning out of the military and into civilian life.