My husband and I have reached “dinosaur age” in terms of life in the military. At the 20-year mark, we decided to stick around as long as the Marine Corps would have us, and we’re now in that period of military life where we live vicariously through others as they sail off into civilian life. We gather little bits about the transition process from each of our friends as they move on and file the information away for when it’s our turn.
But retirement is not the only road to civilian life. Many service members also decide early in their careers that four years is enough, or they choose to transition out of the military for other reasons, like a fantastic job offer or a different kind of stability for the kids. Regardless of how transition happens, it is inevitable for all of us. These past few weeks, I spent time talking with transitioning military families about how Military OneSource resources helped them during their transition, and here’s what they found most helpful.
- NEW: 365 days of coverage. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense announced that service members and their families are now eligible to receive full access to Military OneSource for one year after separating from active-duty service. This is a change from the previous 180-day coverage and a big win during a very stressful time in a service member’s career.
- SECO Career and Education Resources. The Spouse Career and Education Opportunities, or SECO, program offers so much to transitioning spouses. The tools on the MySECO website have helped families find information on jobs in their new area, as well as potential career and education paths, and offers hundreds of resources about everything from choosing a school to starting their own business. Spouses can work with a career counselor on any number of coaching packages designed to help them meet their goals. Also new this year, like their service members, spouses are now eligible for one year of LinkedIn Premium as their service member transitions to civilian life. (Side note: you can now get LinkedIn Premium after a PCS, too!) For more information on all the SECO program has to offer, visit https://www.myseco.militaryonesource.mil.
- Transition Benefits and Resources on Military OneSource. Even though spouses are eligible to attend the Career Transition Seminar at their local installation, many spouses find the Separation and Transition section of the Military OneSource website a great place to start to learn about benefits and resources. The site is a starting point for education benefits, healthcare and medical, service-connected disability resources, life insurance coverage and much more. Let Military OneSource work for you by finding the links to the sites you need in one convenient place, https://www.militaryonesource.mil/separation-transition.
- Moving Tools. Military OneSource makes it easy to connect to moving resources as your service member transitions. The Moving Resources section on the website serves as a hub of tools and website links dedicated to ensuring you won’t spend hours searching for everything you’ll need for that last move. Visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-housing/moving/moving-resources.
- Budgeting Tools. Planning and budgeting for life outside of the military can be one of the most challenging realities families face as they transition to civilian life. Having a good handle on your future living expenses and what money you will need during transition can make the transition much more comfortable. The Personal Finance Resources section of Military OneSource provides critical information about benefits, taxes, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and offers calculators to help you plan for transition. Visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/personal-finance-resources for more details.
When speaking with families, the one universal truth that seemed to come up over and over was this: they wish they would have known about all the benefits and services they were eligible for earlier in the process. Don’t wait to start planning for your transition. In addition to the resources mentioned above, Military OneSource offers free counseling, information and referral services for these and many other topics. It takes one call to Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to get started on your next chapter. People are standing by and want to help. All you need to do is ask!