An estimated 250,000 enlisted service members and officers return to civilian life each year. For these servicemen & women and their families, integrating into civilian life is not an easy task. Finding a job, relocating to a new home and making financial adjustments are some of the biggest challenges facing a military family. Intensive preparation and planning for the move can ease the burden of taking up a regular life after the service.
Jobs for the Military
One of the biggest concerns that faces a military family is employment. Although about 92% of enlisted personnel completed high school or some form of college, fewer than one in ten or 7% have a bachelor’s degree according to the Pew Research Center. For these veterans, the job market is limited given that they do not have the right skills to fill the positions. While ex-military officers who have higher levels of educational attainment might have an easier time finding a job, looking for a lucrative paid position is not that straightforward.
While looking for a job, the survival of the family will largely depend on how much money has been squirreled away while in service. Financial adjustments must be done until a steady source of income is in place. Sending kids to the public school, buying food and gas if there is a commissary nearby are helpful ways to cope with a limited budget.
Looking for a Place to Live
Military families move every 2-3 years or 10 times more often than their civilian counterparts according to DoSomething.org. Purchasing a home is not an easy decision as it is never sure when they will be deployed. Keeping two homes does not make sense and if renting out the property, families need to deal with tenants and their needs. Repairs and maintenance are difficult to do from a distance unless a property manager is hired.
Once back, most will move in to a temporary accommodation convenient to amenities such as schools, clinics and shopping areas. If planning on buying a home, getting approved for a mortgage is influenced by having a steady employment in addition to a downpayment. If you’re already a homeowner, your place might need renovations. Alternative sources of financing such as tapping into home equity or reverse mortgage can help you fund repairs, college or a retirement nest.
Preparing for Post-Military Family Life
Adequate preparation for post-military life has advantages. Getting an education or completing a degree while in service enhances your qualifications and make it easier to join the job market. The military also supports vocational training and you can even avail of these types of services. You should also know the benefits that are available to you such as travel allowance, storage of household goods and per diem.
Financial education and literacy are important as well before transitioning into civilian life. According to the 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, 58% of veterans are likely to carry a debt from month to month compared to civilians at just 34%. While most financial decisions were done by the government, being a civilian means that you must do everything on your own from your health insurance and taxes to mortgages and loans.
Transitioning into post-military family life is simpler if you are prepared for it in advance. Getting an education, enhancing your skills, and planning your exit physically and morally can only benefit your family upon departure.