- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: Considering Your Options

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Service Transport

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If you’re like most military spouses, or currently transitioning ones, or retiring ones, you’ve been keeping up with the news of late and you’re concerned.

It doesn’t matter whether you get your news fix by opening the newspaper, clicking on a link or listening to the perfectly coiffed evening anchor on television. What you’re reading and hearing concerns you.

After all, you and your family are knee-deep in the throes of planning your after-the-military life and the after-life just isn’t cooperating.

        after-the-military life

Two More Years

For example, you and your spouse revisit the idea of not getting out of uniform just yet. You’ll put in a few more years and see if things on the outside improve. But you’re concerned about recent headlines announcing that the Army planned to cut its forces by 80,000 troops over five years.

Since Secretary Hagel’s announcement of the cuts, the reduction number and area of focus has changed. In August, President Obama visited Camp Pendleton and, “vowed that he would fight to end across-the-board budget cuts that have shaken the military,” according to the New York Times. He went on to criticize his foes in Congress, “What makes me frustrated is sometimes the very folks who say they stand with our military proudly are the same ones who are standing in the way of fixing the sequester.”

Military to DoD

If you do consider staying in familiar waters, you can transition out and begin work as a federal civilian employee. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned in July that DoD layoffs were possible in 2014, making the decision to transition to a federal job difficult to get behind.

Even with the budget cuts, the Associated Press reported, “The Pentagon will still maintain a total annual budget, adjusted for inflation, of well over $500 billion a year for the rest of the decade, according to Todd Harrison of the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. That’s a modest reduction when compared to the previous drawdowns in defense spending that came after the wars in Korea and Vietnam a
nd the Cold War.”

The Clean Break

But what if you and your spouse consider making a clean break of it, leaving behind a camouflaged life for a purely civilian one. You want to try living in a world where the PX/BX are called the mall and you don’t need to show an ID card to buy a pair of shoes.

Unemployment rates have been high, but the economy is showing positive signs. Given all the gloom and doom here, just what is a transitioning family supposed to do? Should you crawl back under the covers and hope this is all just a bad dream?

Of course not.

Signs are encouraging. The unemployment rate in August dropped to 7.3 percent, the average work week rose to 34.4 hours and retailers led job gains with 44,000 new hires.

You do here what you’ve always done that has facilitated your past successes. You simply do your best. Consider all your options realistically. Discuss them as a family and then make a decision. Roll with it. Give your decision a fighting chance and see what happens.

The most important thing to remember is that there are a lot of influential people and businesses on your side. Companies such as have partnered with national initiatives like Joining Forces to focus on transitioning veterans. Use the resources that have been set up for you.

Janet Farley is the author of Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc., 2012). Follow her blog Life’s Too Short to Hate Your Job at and Resume Rx at

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