Someone shared a statement with me today that gave me so much clarity about the transition process. I mean a light bulb literally went off over my head. Their statement was:
‘When you transition from the military, you are not going back to being a civilian – you are a Veteran.’
I wish I had heard this when I first retired from the Army after 22 years of service. I don’t believe there is a truer statement about transitioning from the military.
#BattleBuddy, let’s be honest and face the truth – we stopped being civilians when we raised our right hand and took that oath. We drank the kool-aid. We’ve been indoctrinated. We are a part of the ‘family.’ This is true, let’s just accept it.
In my book Battle Buddy: Maneuvering the Battlefield of Transitioning from the Military, I talk about the military mindset and the culture of the military ‘family.’ What other organization have you joined where your fellow members are willing to die for you? I don’t know of any.
So in transition, don’t try to become something or someone you’re not – a civilian. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a civilian – someone who has never served in the military. But there is something rather special about holding the title – Veteran. Embrace it! Especially during transition. Here are three things that make being a Veteran awesome:
- Leadership – you’ve likely been in a position of leadership. And depending when you entered the military, you could have had the opportunity to lead others rather young and under pretty stressful circumstances. This is a great skill that will take you far in life. It shows you know how to work in a team with diverse people and that you know how to think critically. Do not forget these skills during transition.
- Loyalty – we can agree to disagree about our political beliefs. We may even get into heated debates. But one thing we will all agree on is that America is the greatest nation on Earth. As I traveled the globe, temporarily resided in foreign countries, and served with ally militaries – I always concluded that the United States of America is great and I was proud to represent my country as I served throughout my career.
- Legendary – ok, maybe not legendary but brave none-the-less. #BattleBuddy, you are counted among the 21.8 million American Veterans according to the 2014 Census Bureau report. That’s 6.8% of the total US population of 319.2 million respectively.
So, you can see Veterans are a special breed. A title you should definitely be proud of. Instead trying to become something you are not embrace what makes you special. I will tell you it will save you a lot of heartache and headaches. Our military experiences allow us to bring unique talents and skills with us in everything that we do in life. If others can’t appreciate that, then tell them to ‘Go kick rocks!’