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How to Plan a Successful Military Transition

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Transitioning from military to civilian life or retirement is not something to take lightly. Nearly 50% of military veterans indicate their transition to civilian life was more difficult than expected. Many steps and procedures can help ease your transition, but waiting until the last minute to start the process can lead to delays and setbacks along the way.

It’s vital to plan for medical and financial changes when transitioning out of the military. We know financial planning after a military career can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a guide to help veterans transition out of military life with ease.


Retiring from the Military Checklist

Retiring from the military is not as simple as retiring from the traditional workforce. With numerous financial and medical issues to solve before retirement, utilizing our “Retiring from the Military” Checklist will help ensure the retirement process runs smoothly:

  • More than 6 months from retiring: Start determining your qualifications for retirement and eligibility benefits. It’s also important to assess finances and start paying down any debt. You’ll also need to figure out if retirement pay and disability payments are applicable.
  •  4 to 6 months from retiring: You’ll first want to start developing a transition plan and begin scheduling physical and dental appointments. Consulting with a Veterans Affairs counselor to gauge whether a disability claim needs to be filed is another vital initial step.
  • 2 to 4 months from retiring: Now is the time to submit your leave request and start obtaining retirement or separation orders. This time should also be used to make copies of all your personnel and medical records.

Separation from the Military Checklist

Using our “Separation from the Military Checklist” can help ensure you’ve done all the necessary preparation to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. For traditional military transitions, you should start your financial and medical transitions about six months before your official leave date:

  • Gather Medical Records and Paperwork: Start gathering your medical records and investigate any medical issues while still enlisted. Having all the proper paperwork ready will also help when applying for disability claims.
  • Budget Properly: Your next move after the military will also dictate how much income you need. If you’re enrolling in school and can only work part-time, saving money to cover your income drop is critical to maintaining financial independence.
  • Enroll in Transition Classes: Taking military transition classes is a mandatory requirement. The earlier you enroll in the classes, the more time you will have to take advantage of the knowledge and resources you learn from the class.
  • Continuing Education: If you have a GI Bill and want to enroll in college, speak with a career counselor or education service officer. They can ensure you utilize all of your education benefits after the military.
  • Certify Your Training: If your future career requires educational certifications, you can start earning them while still on active duty. Take certification courses early in the transition process.
  • Update Your Resume and Start Networking: When you transition to civilian life, you don’t want to send outdated resumes to potential employers. Common resume styles may have changed since you joined, and a modern resume with your military accomplishments can set you apart from other candidates. Updating or creating a LinkedIn profile can help you connect with other military veterans or professionals in the field you’re interested in joining.
  • Update Family Dynamics: Your life is about to change, and it’s vital that your family is also prepared for the change. Taking time to learn the needs of your family and the benefits available to them for their transition will enable a smooth transition process for everyone.

Regardless of your situation, transitioning from the military requires a lot of work and preparation, so the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Make sure to use the “retiring from the military checklist” to help ensure all your paperwork, certifications, and medical issues are squared away.

Speak with a Relationship Manager at AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust today to start your military transition with the proper knowledge to lessen the confusing retirement or separation process.

Information provided by AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Nothing contained in this communication should be interpreted as such. We encourage you to seek guidance from your tax or legal advisor. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Sources: (2019) – [Homepage statistics] (2019) 7 Secrets for Successful Military Career Transitions [Blog post]