- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Military Spouse Series: Trust the high five Cs when you transition out of the military
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

Share |

Article Sponsored by: Wil-Trans

Return to November/December 2012 Issue

A command team. That’s what you’re a part of when you are married to someone in uniform. You may not wear any rank, but never doubt for a minute that you’re an integral member of the command team.

transition out of the militaryYour role is important all the time.

It matters when you are first married, and you don’t know the difference between an LES and PX/BX.

It matters as your spouse rises through the ranks, and you become the unofficial person that the newbie spouses turn to when they’re in trouble or when they need to better understand things.

It matters as you transition out of the military, when your common attentions turn to your civilian future together.

As you make your own military-to-civilian career transition, rely on those well-honed skills that have served you well in the past. In other words, if it’s not broken, don’t try fixing it now.

Trust the High Five Cs

1. Commitment

You understand what it means to dedicate yourself to a lifestyle, an ideal and a cause. You’ve lived it. You’ve survived more PCS moves than you care to count, starting your life and perhaps your own career over each time. Gorilla Glue has nothing on you. While you may think you are ready to become a civilian family versus a military one, you may not be completely comfortable with the idea yet. It is, after all, a new concept to you.

What will it be like… a life without a front gate, a required ID card or a readily available community of like minds? Your concern is understandable. It takes time to transition from one lifestyle to one so very different. Commit to the transition just as you committed to all those other new duty assignments along the way. Look ahead to new opportunities and embrace the possibilities of your and your family’s future ahead.

2. Competencies

You have your skill set and your spouse has his (or hers). In this career transition, be confident that you bring the most important things with you – experience and knowledge. Continue to take on the challenges and tasks for which you’re best suited, and let your significant other take on the ones with which he or she is most comfortable. Divide and conquer. It has worked well in the past, and it will work well now.

3. Creativity

In the military, even with the best planning, things didn’t always work out the way you had hoped. Unfortunately, as civilians, that is not going to change. You will still have to exercise those powers of creativity when the job doesn’t come through or when you decide that a job you started isn’t the right one for you after all. You’ll have to tap into those creative juices when you want to advance within your new organization or when you decide it’s time to move on, or when you suddenly realize you miss being in the military family but you can’t go back. You can only go bravely and creatively forward, making what doesn’t work somehow work for you anyway.

4. Collaboration

If there was ever a time for you and your spouse to work together, it is now during this mil-to-civ transition. You may be of like minds, with every decision being an easy one. Or not. When you’re not (and even when you are), working together towards the immediate goal, whatever that may be, is important. Make the extra effort to get the information you need to make the best joint decisions for yourselves and for your family members. Effective collaboration, in many cases, may even call for compromise.

5. Communication

Without communication, forget it. You know this all too well from your experiences in the military. Its importance doesn’t diminish as you transition to a civilian life and job(s). If anything, its importance only grows. Effective communication means you continue to express yourself clearly. It means you listen without being judgmental. It means you keep an open mind because you don’t always know what’s coming at you, and you have to be able to adapt as you go. Wow. Sound familiar?

You have been a great command team while your spouse has served in uniform. Now it’s time to be a great command team as you transition out of the military and into the civilian world.


Janet Farley is the author of "The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Jobs for Mobile Lifestyles” (Impact Publications, 2012) and “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Publishing, Inc., 2012). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide and @smartjobchoices for tips, news and inspiration.


Return to November/December 2012 Issue