By: Jake Hughes
Hi, everyone! Jake here, obviously. How y’all doing?
Odd way to introduce a news piece, right? Well, this isn’t going to be the usual piece of journalism you’ve come to expect from ConnectingVets.com. Most of you don’t know this, but October 21st of this year marked my one-year anniversary of getting out of the Army.
I know, I’m a short-timer, a young buck, a wee lad. But being that short out, I’m in a unique position. In the past year, I’ve had major ups and downs: good and bad, and I’ve pretty much run the gamut of experiences that someone transitioning from the military to civilian life can expect.
So, given this, we—we being my bosses, of course—decided that now might be a good time to impart a bit of the knowledge I’ve gained over the past year. Just little snippets of my experience, that hopefully can help someone avoid the mistakes I made and make the good decisions I did.
When it first became apparent that I would be leaving the military far earlier than I had ever intended, I was very nervous. The past 13 years of my life, I had planned on making the Army a career, doing my 20 and retiring like most “lifers.” I’ll admit–I panicked a bit. Where would I go? What would I do?
I feared I would be living on my mom’s couch, unemployed for years! But then, I figured something out. “Hey,” I said to myself, “I like long distance driving, and I’m an antisocial jerk who loves being alone, so…” It was then that I formulated my plan: I would get out and become a long-haul truck driver. It seemed the perfect plan, but as it turns out, it may have not been all that “perfect” at all, more on that in a later article.
It was then that I made my first big mistake: I didn’t avail myself of all the great programs the Army and the VA had to help me find a career. Oh, sure, I went through the Army’s mandatory classes, but I shammed through them. I did the perfunctory steps, but no real effort went into it. And as for the VA? Wow, there are so many resources I ignored. Like VetNet, their career resource that could help me build a resume, make connections, and learn how to start my own business. Or their Transition Assistance Program, which could have guided me all the way through the process by itself.
The point is I passed over a whole lot of great info that was handed to me, because I was so sure that I had a plan. But as you’ll find out in the next article in this series, the first casualty of any operation is the plan itself. It always pays to have a backup, and I didn’t. So, build your resume right, attend classes, ask your command for time off to go to the VA, and once you’re out, make use of everything they have available to you.
If you do things right, you won’t have to worry about sitting on your butt unemployed for months, worrying where your next paycheck is gonna come from, but that’s just the beginning of my story. Keep your eyes on ConnectingVets.com for my next installment, where we’ll find out the perfect plan doesn’t actually exist.