Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Life After Military Service

  • College
  • Vocational skills
  • Starting your own business
  • Job-hunting skills

Life After Military Service

Thousands of soldiers leave the military each year. Despite all the "Support the troops" bumper stickers, the unemployment rate for people who defended our country is embarrassingly high. This time I'll explore different options for people leaving the military. Which reminds me of Thomas Wolfe's famous observation "You can't go home again." Ok, I wasn't paying attention in high school, and chances are that you weren't either, but trust me this quote is relevant to your journey.

Not only can you go home after military service, it's often the best place to start. What Wolfe meant was that your home isn't usually what you remember it to be. And, chances are, neither is the process of sorting out your post-military service career. To help you go back ready to start your next mission, here are four strategies to consider.

College. The GI bill is a benefit that has never been more important as you enter civilian life. Did you know that college graduates earn twice as much pay and have half the unemployment rate of high school graduates? You earned the GI bill benefits, it's important to not give them to your kids or your spouse but to use them yourself. But don't just jump at the first option, explore a variety of programs, and especially their cost, so you can make those GI bill dollars go as far as possible. Who knows maybe you could get a bachelors and a masters before you're done.

Vocational skills. There are many opportunities for people with vocational skills: auto repairs, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, IT, etc. There are also a wide range of training programs and apprenticeship programs that can give you the skills and certificates necessary to start a very successful career. You also might want to do some digging to find the professions that are especially military-friendly.

Starting your own business. Your discipline and drive can position you for a successful career as an entrepreneur, but this doesn't have to be a totally solo endeavor. There are many resources out there for you to learn how to spot a great business opportunity, how to write a business plan and how to get the resources you need to actually make it happen.

Job-hunting skills. Resumes, interviews and finding the right job opportunities are things that you may have never done before. Start by talking to professionals who know the latest techniques to survive the job hunting minefield. For example, many resumes today aren't first evaluated by a person, but rather by a computer. There are techniques to ensure that you use enough key words so that your resume will land on top. Be sure that your knowledge of the job hunting process is up to date and that you learn how to make a great first impression.

You've completed an important mission with the end of your time in uniform. But you now have to bring the spirit, creativity and perseverance to your next mission, creating a successful career as a civilian.

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him


Thought of the Week

"Flattery is the infantry of negotiation"

–Lord Chandos

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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