Whether it be for the attractive benefits, a sense of national responsibility, or just needing some structure and discipline in your life, there are many reasons why an individual may choose to enlist in the U.S. military. The question once you’ve had your fill of military life is, how do you go about properly retiring from military service?
In the U.S., the form that denotes your official separation from the military is known as the DD-214. Services like DD214 Direct help veterans navigate the bureaucracy of the U.S. military system and retrieve said form, while some people opt to track down the form themselves. However, you decide to go about it, the DD-214 is an important document when it comes to securing military benefits or proving your military past to employers.
Now that you’ve decided to retire from the U.S. military, there are some things you should consider:
Get Educated About Separating from Your Service Branch
No fewer than 90 days before you separate from the US military, you must take part in a process referred to as separation counselling. This counselling covers the basics of what benefits you’re entitled to, including but not limited to medical insurance, life insurance, how to navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as relocation assistance.
Another compulsory step is your final exit exam from the military. This is not an exam of your mental knowledge, but instead a final medical and dental exam to fully document the state of your body upon leaving the military.
A term of service in the military is seldom less than a few years. During this time, you’ve been out of the regular workforce and may be rusty on how to properly integrate back into non-military style jobs. While not always mandatory to take part in, the U.S. military offers a workshop known as the Transition Assistance Program that will make sure your resume writing skills and job search strategies are still up to date and viable in the current market.
Know Your Retirement Budget
Many former active duty members of the military struggle with financial responsibility upon leaving the military since they are now responsible for their own ability to take care of all aspects of their lives instead of being issued supplies from the military. If you make sure to take good note of what the military is going to be allowing you to take home every month in retirement pay, you’ll be leagues ahead of those less prepared for the transition. Know that your retirement pay is not subject to federal and state taxes and will adjust annually to protect against inflation.
Understand The Transition
Many of your close friends who seem like family to you will no longer be an active part of your life. Make sure to get their contact details so you can stay in touch with your friends within the military after you’ve exited to stay plugged in to your previous life and stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness. You’re making as big of a leap as you made when you first joined the military, mentally prepare yourself for having to go back to a much different way of living.
Whatever your reasons for retiring, the transition need not be a rocky road full of hiccups and stress. Take proper time to consider your return to civilian life and understand that you’ll soon be reintegrating to average society.