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The civilian world is upon you. Either through retirement or the desire for a new way of life, you’ve decided to leave your military service behind and move on to what you hope are greener pastures. Though every Veteran will encounter transition challenges, it IS possible to have a smooth military transition into civilian life. One way to ensure success is to prepare for your departure before you actually depart. By taking care of a few things beforehand, you’ll save yourself time, energy, and a whole lot of stress once you have that DD214 in hand.

As you make your way out of uniform, there are things you have to do (e.g. paperwork, briefings, classes, etc.) and then other things you should do. Here are three things you SHOULD do before leaving the military — preferably a year out.

1. Save Your Money
Yes, your military career came with stresses. It also came with incredible benefits that are hard to appreciate until they’re gone. One of those benefits was military discounts. As a civilian, things like medical care, rent, groceries, prescriptions, and even fuel are going to cost more than when you had access to military base pricing. To offset these costs, start saving money now. A good rule of thumb is to have enough money put away in savings to cover at least three months of living expenses, which includes rent, food, fuel, and other necessities.

2. Explore Your Educational Options
Do you plan on going back to school post separation? If so, educate yourself on what GI Bill benefits you’re entitled to. It’s also important to note that if you wish to transfer benefits to a spouse or other dependent, this has to be done before you leave the military. Don’t be in such a hurry to get out that you miss this extremely crucial step to receiving — or transferring — educational assistance.

Another educational option to consider is an apprenticeship program and/or professional certification course. GenM, a student-to-business matchmaking company, offers apprenticeships with vetted business owners to give students real-world educational training. As a Veteran with SAVI, you can take advantage of GenM’s programs and courses for free. Learn more here about how to take advantage of this partnership.

3. Prepare for Your Future Jobs
Well before you actually get out, you should be creating a plan for military separation. This entails searching for civilian jobs that either interest you or fit closest to your current skill set. To do this, find Veteran mentors to help you create a resume that translates your military experience into civilian speak. Build relationships with these Veterans as well as with professionals in careers you desire. One great way to grow your network and start looking for potential jobs is with a profile on LinkedIn, which offers military members a free premium account for a year. Join and engage with groups that interest you and follow companies you’d like to work for in the future. Check out our previous blog post on networking and growing Veteran connections.

Though far from a comprehensive list, these three items of business will make a huge difference in the success of your military-to-civilian transition. For more information on how to prepare for your departure out of the military, contact SAVI today.