Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life After Active Military Duty

The front-page of the March 25th Wall Street Journal has this news blurb:

“Returning veterans earn less than civilians and have a harder time finding work, a government report concluded.”

An hour after reading this news item I received a message on MySpace from “Jay.” He told me about a website www.afteryourservice.com to help former military personnel earn good pay in civilian jobs.

I’m not endorsing this website because I don’t know enough to do so.

What I am saying is that this is a very important topic – civilian employers frequently do not adequately value the skills and talents that ex-military personnel have learned in the military. And this leads to the lowered earning power and harder time finding work.

One reason for this may be because civilian employers have never been in the military themselves. Thus these prospective employers have no idea what skills and talents are learned. And putting “Reconnaissance Marine” on your resume probably doesn’t mean a great deal to people who have no experience with the military.

I have another blog – www.flippingburgersandbeyond.com – in which I discuss career considerations for young people and making your own luck. While national programs to help ex-military personnel enter civilian life are needed, I also believe that ex-military personnel must learn how to leverage their service skills for the civilian workforce.

A Reconnaissance Marine, for example, must figure out – by himself/herself or with help from others – how to translate military skills into civilian work skills. Here’s a partial list of military skills that are very important in business:





People can be taught civilian skills such as marketing or bookkeeping much easier than people can be taught teamwork, cooperation, initiative and preparation. These four skills are best learned while actually doing them – and these skills are practiced every single day in a person’s military career.

I will return to this subject sometime in the future. I have the letters I wrote home to my parents while my husband and I were stationed in Munich, Germany. In the letters I complained that my husband was losing valuable years out of the workforce. And my mother wrote me very encouraging letters about all the skills and knowledge my husband was gaining that others were not.

It’s important to focus on all these important “business” skills that military personnel utilize every single day. These skills can be great assets to any prospective employer.

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