When you near the end of your military service, it's natural to feel a mix of emotions. You may be looking forward to quality time with friends and family and the simple pleasures of civilian life, but you may also be worried about losing the camaraderie, clear sense of purpose and other benefits of military life. Fortunately, there are ways you can help fill the gaps military may leave behind. Try some of these suggestions to help you find your purpose and keep achieving your life goals at home:
- Going back to school, whether at a traditional four-year college, technical school or non-college-degree institution, can open up your career opportunities. Not only do you come away with a wealth of knowledge, but attending school also provides a chance to meet like-minded individuals and make connections that could help you land your dream job. Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans may be entitled to receive up to 100 percent of school tuition and fees, a housing allowance and even money to use toward books and supplies.
- Pursue a civilian career. As you may determine through the military's Transition Assistance Program (TAP), there are ways you can put your military skills to use in a different and fulfilling way as a civilian. Alternatively, if your basic needs are met through military retirement, this may be your opportunity to pursue a passion or pick up a new skill.
- Volunteer. Reincorporate public service into your life by volunteering for a cause you're passionate about. Studies have found that volunteering doesn't just feel good—it may also be good for you. Active, impassioned volunteers tend to have better blood pressure, experience a lower rate of depression and live longer.* Try looking for a volunteer position that takes advantage of your skills, or a position that could help you develop a skill you'd like to improve.
- Join a recreational sports team. You may find that sports and your time in the military have a surprising amount in common. Both have a heavy emphasis on physical dexterity, dedication, teamwork and even friendship. Look for a recreational league or some pick-up games to have some fun, stay in shape and make new friends.
- Take up a hobby. Find a leisure activity that gives you an opportunity for relaxation and reflection. Search online or visit your local parks and recreation department for nearby classes or organizations that can help you get started. A few ideas for hobbies include writing, photography, gardening, dancing and cooking.
When you're ready to transition to civilian life, Navy Federal is here to help. Visit our Work Life page for resources that can help you find a job, search for volunteer opportunities and more.
*Source: Psychology and Aging, "A prospective study of volunteerism and hypertension risk in older adults"