Veterans today often need far more support in returning to civilian life than official sources offer. Thousands of active military personnel transition out of service each month — translating to roughly 550 transitions per day. Many of these former service-members face difficult returns home or to entirely new cities. As if that weren’t enough, many also deal with inner battles and physical challenges that can make reintegration into their old way of life a stressful, confusing journey.
Despite these facts, official military resources continue to focus almost exclusively outward: on quick job placements in a limited set of industries. Little, if any, focus is turned inward, to examine what the service-member needs and wants holistically, as a complex and unique human being.
A better, more comprehensive approach — such as the one SAVI envisions — instead starts with four crucial questions to future success: How, why, when, and where? Only from the answers to these big-picture questions can a Veteran work backward to develop an effective transition plan. The idea is to help service-members strategically evolve toward a life they want to be in — not just one they’re stuck in without hope or choice.
Today’s Military Support Lacks Whole Life Guidance
Currently, the official transition from service-member to Veteran focuses narrowly on setting and meeting employment goals. For example, the five-day, optional “Transition GPS” course instructs Veterans on how to prepare a resume, search and apply for jobs, and speak to civilian employers. At times, the program seems only to want to translate battlefield skills into something that works in a cubicle.
While the vast majority of Veterans do transition directly into the civilian workforce (versus retirement or school), very little investigation is made into how they picture their future lives as a whole — emotionally and spiritually, as well as professionally. As a result, Veterans often end up living a life that they find unfulfilling and stressful. This is particularly devastating for those Veterans who leave the military with physical or emotional scars from their service.
In addition, this one-size-fits-all approach lacks personalization and presumes to know where service-members want to end up upon leaving the military. Little wiggle room is left for adaptation to individual wants and needs.
Developing an Alternative
A more comprehensive framework helps Veterans and service-members envision and track toward an all-around happy life in the immediate and long-term future. How do they see their day-to-day? What desires drive them? Most important, how can those desires translate into personal fulfillment?
By crafting a vision of what they really want to do, how they want to spend their time, and what brings them closer to true happiness, a plan can be reverse-engineered that will help turn a Veteran’s vision into reality. This alternative strategy requires an honest evaluation that addresses not simply where a Veteran will work, but also how and why.
Creating a Vision of a Fulfilling Life
The SAVI approach answers this call. We start with identifying a long-term goal, then work our way backward to today. This allows the transitioning service-member to fully imagine what he or she wants from life from the outset — not just employment, but full-time employment in the IT sector, living close to the ocean, and working a flexible schedule to spend more time with the kids and on the trails, for example. SAVI then looks at the concrete steps required to achieve that vision, encompassing educational, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements.
Opening to Feedback
In addition, the SAVI program is unique in recognizing that feedback is an integral part of the transitioning journey. Ideas come from all sources, including spouses, family members, mentors, friends, and military leadership. But the most vital source of feedback is the Veteran’s own changing experience, as only he or she is fit to judge whether the plan is working well (or not) on a personal level.
By helping track progress across all life’s elements, SAVI lets Veterans capture the kind of objective feedback that empowers them to pinpoint what’s working, what’s not, and what needs adjusting to stay true on the course to their ultimate vision.
What Comes Next?
SAVI’s whole-life approach intentionally lacks any set start or end dates. We believe that, while specific goals can be reached, life is about enjoying moments and moving strategically forward toward sustainable happiness. This happiness looks different for each person, and adjustments are never-ending. SAVI’s own vision is to provide ongoing resources and support to all transitioning service-members, so that today’s dreams become tomorrow’s realities.