Every year, 200,000 veterans transition to civilian life. For those that choose to leave or retire, life after the military can be challenging, confusing, and disconcerting. There are currently 19 million U.S. veterans, many of whom report difficulties in transitioning to civilian life after serving. In a past Pew Research Center survey, 27 percent admitted re-entry was difficult for them. For those with combat experience, that figure reaches 46 percent. By now it is no secret that veterans encounter a long list of challenges when transitioning to civilian life. From securing a job after the military to accessing support and benefits to help their readjustments, exiting the ‘military bubble’ can present some roadblocks for any veteran.
Managing Your Debt As A Veteran
More veterans are grappling with financial challenges when transitioning to civilian life, including climbing debt balances. In a National Foundation For Credit Counseling survey, military families were shown to have a 7 percent higher balance on unsecured debt such as credit cards. Other research has shown that 91 percent of veterans have at least one credit card, and 58 percent of debt carried over from month to month, illustrating just how important it is for veterans to access financial literacy tools when re-entering civilian life.
Many veterans are faced with financial decisions from the onset, including increasing their credit scores, buying a new home, and drafting a personal budget for their expenses. The good news is that the Veterans Benefits Administration now has a dedicated Financial Literacy portal, which provides a long list of resources on common financial questions, including reducing debt, avoiding fraud and scams as a veteran, creating a family budget, and available veteran benefits. For those seeking homeownership, the department also offers the VA Loan and Grant scheme, along with a dedicated hotline to help with finding emergency housing. You can also utilize a VA loan calculator to help you judge your eligibility for a loan or home financing with current interest rates. Additionally, veterans and their family members can enroll in The VA Benefits and Services course online through TAPevents.org as a part of the Transition Assistance Program.
Re-Entering The Workforce As A Civilian
Another challenge that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life is finding suitable employment. Veteran unemployment now averages 3 percent – a historic decline in recent years. However, further examination reveals that many veterans are underemployed. They are likely to finish high school and college, but a recent LinkedIn study showed that they are 37 percent more likely to be unemployed than non-veterans.
More than half of veterans (55 percent) want to pursue a completely different career post-military, but find it difficult to transfer their skills to a new job. Veterans are also more likely to lag behind when it comes to job hunting practices since they have not applied for a job in some time. To help with this, The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has set up Veterans Re-Employment, which matches transitioning military members with jobs that utilize their current skillset. Other organizations like Hire Heroes USA and My Next Move For Vets can help you find available job opportunities and provide advice for what to expect in the recruitment process. Finally, online publications like the popular U.S. Veterans Magazine provide interview tips for veterans to help you prepare for any job interviews you may have as you readjust to civilian life.
Coping With Combat Stress And Mental Health Triggers
Last, but certainly not least, readjusting to civilian life can be difficult when it comes to re-establishing ties with your community or coping with PTSD in your everyday life after the military. In a past screening of deployed veterans, 13.5 percent identified as having PTSD. Other studies put the average as high as 30 percent for the veteran population. For those with PTSD symptoms, the first step is getting a diagnosis and mental health assessment. Courses of treatment like talk therapy, or anger or stress management can help you find useful strategies to implement in your everyday routine.
Re-adjusting to civilian life can be a long journey, but there is support available for anyone who needs it. The key to succeeding is to take it to step by step and tackle one roadblock at a time.