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Soldier for Life: Soldiers should plan future before making transition

By Bryan Tharpe | Fort Rucker (Ala.) Soldier for Life Center | April 12, 2018


What strengths do you have a result of military service? What have you done to improve your work place? What are your greatest achievements in the Army?

These are questions I have posed many times to groups of transitioning Soldiers. Think about it from a civilian employer’s perspective. Will your experience in the Army make you a better civilian employee after you separate? Many civilian employers are counting on it!

Think of what you will have to offer after years of challenging assignments.

You are flexible, adaptable, team oriented, healthy, certified drug free, disciplined, safety-conscious and trainable. You are great leaders, teachers, public speakers, motivators, mentors and quality control inspectors.

You have the ability to work long hours under adverse conditions, to perform multiple tasks with minimum supervision, to meet deadlines, to give and take directives and communicate effectively in the most culturally diverse organization in the United States. You have a security clearance, a global perspective, and technical training.

But how long do you need to serve in order to make the most of these skills and attributes? Two years? Five? Twenty? Serving even one enlistment is commendable, but there are more benefits to re-enlistment than you might have expected.

Acquiring the transferable skills and experience listed above doesn’t happen overnight. It does take years. Extended military service may just double or triple your employment options after you do separate.

So, what should you do after you re-enlist to maximize your strengths of military service? I have a few suggestions: skill build, volunteer, make improvements, seek responsibility and go to school.

Look for opportunities to learn new tasks on the job. There are always new things to learn right in front of you that you may have overlooked. Learn how to use a new piece of machinery or equipment. Identify a process or management problem and then use IT to solve it. Practice troubleshooting.

Increase your typing speed. Design a course outline and then teach the class. Spearhead a committee. Look for ways to make your office more efficient or less costly. Devise a new safety or quality control measure.

Be the best supervisor or manager that you can be and make notes documenting times when you successfully used strong leadership ability to overcome a difficult situation.

After hours, take college courses. Re-enlist for several more years then start a specific educational program. Plan now so that when you separate you’ll be bilingual, MSCE certified, halfway through a degree or whatever educational goal is right for you.

Now is the right time to think about your future. Don’t wait until your separation to evaluate yourself.

If you had to write your resume today what would it look like? Would it be a list of accomplishments or just a description of your MOS?

Imagine your answers to typical interview questions, such as “What did you do to improve your office?” “What were your three greatest achievements in the Army?” and “What strengths do you have as a result of your military service?”

Let these questions be a guide as you continue to serve your country and make the most of opportunities for self-improvement. As a result, you will find both your Army experience and your transition to civilian employment much more rewarding.


For more information, call the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Soldier For Life Center at 210-221-1213.