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  • Writer's pictureJosh Atkinson

Your Transition Plan: A Call to Action for Our Military

Stop relying on corrective maintenance for your transition – start preparing now!

Over my seven years of engagement with thousands of veterans regarding transition, a recurring issue kept arising:  many of us, just like me, approach transition with a vague awareness but without a concrete plan. I thought I would retire at 20 years. The prospect of transitioning seemed distant until it suddenly became an urgent reality – the unthinkable happened. I didn’t make rank and was unexpectedly asked to leave. 

Now what do I do?

Man with hands on his head, thinking

The blindside was unreal.  This wasn’t in the plan. I was emotionally tied to my service, and the thought of leaving was inconceivable. On top of that, I had done absolutely nothing to prepare myself for this moment.

Emotionally: I was deeply attached to the service and leaving seemed impossible.

Professionally: While I possessed a Lean Six Sigma Green belt, I had done NOTHING to improve my civilian credentials or relatability, no advanced degrees, no relevant certifications – no plan for my next career.

Financially: I lacked savings, life insurance, and a strategic transition plan. While owning my house offered some stability, it was not part of the plan. It just happened. 

While reflecting on this experience, I’ve realized that I am not the exception to the rule and that my situation is more common than it should be. 

So, when asked when to start preparing, my unequivocal answer is: RIGHT NOW! 

This doesn’t mean everyone should follow the same path, but rather, you need to start envisioning what your future looks like today. Build your transition plan well before you think you need it.

So, what steps do you need to take?

Emotionally: Begin to engage in some self-discovery.  Understand your personality, passions, and strengths using tools like Myers Briggs, DISC, Stengthsfinder, and "discovering your ‘why’".

Financially: Aim to accumulate 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in savings so you don’t panic buy the first job that comes your way.  Look into life insurance options early, before it’s too late – securing VA disability before life insurance may cause you to become uninsurable.

Professionally: Pursue higher education or certifications NOW. Credentials such as Lean Six Sigma, Agile, PMP, and Change Management enhance your leadership abilities today and provide you with many new prospects in the future. Take advantage of education benefits like Tuition Assistance for a Bachelors/Masters Degree and GI BILL, ArmyCA, AF COOL, CG COOL and unit funding for certifications.

Don’t delay – Enroll today. 

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