For a military member who has devoted the majority of adult life in uniformed service, the thought of retiring can be somewhat intimidating. But with a little preparation, the transition from a full time military environment to a full time civilian lifestyle can be achieved without any apprehension. A military retirement is doable anytime after 20 years of service with the majority of personnel retiring with over 30 years of service.
Members are old enough to retire from one career and young enough to still pursue a whole new career. After leaving the service many members take advantage of their transition phase to fulfill long dreamed of adventures like traveling across the country to visit or revisit with family, friends and places they have only thought about before. Still other new retirees take the opportunity to return to school to either complete a 4 year degree or to obtain higher degrees.
Much thought and planning comes into play when someone is anticipating retirement. One of first and most important considerations is where they want to settle down. It does not have to be in the same state where they joined the service. It is a wonderful benefit that the military services will provide a full permanent change of location upon retirement. After that final relocation any future movements are at the retiree’s personal expense.
For families with school age children it is beneficial to research areas with good educational programs. For some members being in an area with VA or military medical facilities is an important consideration. When not able to relocate near a military medical center or Tricare services, it is advantageous to purchase a supplemental health care insurance policy. Dental services are provided to retirees on a space available basis. Therefore, dental insurance is another civilian life crossover expense.
Other areas of concern that need to be researched before a final relocation are the sales, state, and property tax bases and the employment opportunities within a state. Another benefit that varies from one member to another is the availability of a low interest mortgage reserved exclusively for military members. The use of this type of home loan helps to compensate for the loss of the military housing allowance.
Since retirement means the loss of any food allowance, the cost of groceries must be factored into monthly expenses. Depending upon each individual’s person financial situation, a retiree may seek either full or part time employment. Deciding on and training for a career in the civilian workforce is a planning strategy that needs to be determined several years before retiring. Returning to work with the Federal government as a civil servant is a favorite option for many military members as they are already trained for a lot of the positions. The change from a uniformed work standard to civilian attire often requires the purchase of additional clothing. This is an expenditure that needs to be calculated into transition costs.
Civilian life does not have to be seen as a challenge or as an uncomfortable situation. Living in a non military community is an everyday occurrence for nearly 99 percent of all Americans. If acclimating to new living conditions while in the military did not create any hardships, it will be the same when merging into a new retirement lifestyle. It will not be long before neighbors, shop owners and associates are calling retirees by their first names and exchanging stores and complaints about the local good old days, even if that was only last year.
Life after the military is not the closing of one door in order to open another door. Rather, civilian life is the next new chapter in one’s life that will add to and enrich all that came before. Live lone and enjoy each new chapter.