Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Inevitable Changes Transitioning Veterans Will Experience

All veterans, whether you have served 2 years or 22 years, will experience extensive changes as you make the transition into working in the private sector. Of course military life is full of changes - changes in duty locations, being ready to deploy at a moment's notice if necessary, and changing assignments. However, there is security and a sense of constancy in the military that will be disrupted with your transition.

For many people, to varying degrees, change can be a major producer of stress. There are all sorts of uncertainties that lie ahead. Let's look at a few of the most common changes that veterans face.

  • Job security. Although there has been some downsizing - or force shaping - happening in the military, for the most part service members don't have to worry about their employer doing massive layoffs or closing their doors unexpectedly.
  • Friends and coworkers. Service members move wherever the military chooses to send them. When transitioning, many veterans choose to move across the country, thus leaving behind their close friends and the coworkers they are used to.
  • Structure. Although you must be flexible in the military, you often know what to expect. No matter what is thrown your way, there is a very strict, rigid structure in place that you can count on. The fear of the "unknown" civilian world causes stress for many veterans.
  • Freedom. You can't dress as you want, style your hair any way you want, get tattoos and body piercings where you want, or quit whenever you want in the military. The freedom that veterans face when they transition can be both freeing and daunting all at the same time. 
  • Management Style. Military leaders take a "holistic" approach to managing their team. They get involved in their team's personal lives and their financial stability. In the military, it is as though you are a member of a very large family. Like most families, the military encourages mangers to stay current in what is happening in the members of their team's personal business. This approach does not happen in the private sector, in fact it is frowned upon. This change in leadership style can be difficult for service members to overcome.
Check back on Thursday and we will explore the different symptoms of stress and what you can do about it.

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