Author Topic: Leaving the military  (Read 2666 times)

AllN4Ton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Leaving the military
« on: December 25, 2016, 03:51:47 PM »
I am 26 years old, leaving the military in a few months after almost 9 years. I am from a HCOL city on the west coast, I was stationed overseas and am currently stationed in a freezing Northern Tier base in the U.S. I have been in the military most of my adult life, I was a responsibility free 18 year old when I signed up, now I am married with a brand new baby.

My wife and I would like to relocate to somewhere on the east coast, Raleigh or Charlotte NC have caught our eye, leaning towards the latter. Neither of us have ever been there, and we have no family nearby. By the time I separate in a few months we will have about a years worth of expenses saved up. We just bought a brand new Honda, which I am starting to regret a little bit. We paid cash though so no car payment. We are a 1 car household, and I very much appreciate having a safe reliable car with a warranty.

I have been an occasional browser of the forum, but this is my first post. Our expenses are pretty trim, the wife quit the job when the baby was born and we do not plan on her returning to the work force for the first couple years at least. She was a low earner anyway, and would barely make enough to make up for child care costs. I am also planning on not returning to work. I want to take a year to work on my degree and improve my physical fitness to return to the military. I would work part time if I absolutely need to, but I will already be splitting my time between my family, the gym, and school. I would rather not add a job to the mix. If I attend school full time (12 credit hours) I will be eligible for a housing stipend of about $1500 for the Charlotte area, the exact amount depends on the zip code of the school I attend. From the little bit of searching I have done, it should very easily cover rent and utilities.

I guess I am just looking for guidance on how to live like a normal person, from normal people. The military has transition programs, unfortunately they are mostly taught by people, such as myself, that have never had to walk the walk. I am in an unusual situation I guess, being that I have no intention of getting a normal job when I get out, and my desire to re-enter active duty after a year of college. I am worried about what I will do about things like health care. I have 6 months of tricare after I separate, but after that, I'm not sure what I will do. I guess a lot depends on what happens to ACA in the next few months, but I would love to hear anyone's thoughts on this. This uncertainty makes it hard to budget for expenses because it is such a wild card. I assume ACA would be to our benefit because our income would be so low, but what about deductibles and such?

I would like to hear tips from anyone that thinks they can help, but especially anyone that has separated from active duty.

Thanks in advance.

EricL

  • Guest
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2016, 05:23:25 PM »
Welcome and Merry Christmas. I got out and went back in many moons ago. And from the sounds of it you're already avoiding mistakes I made like not having robust savings.

That said, it's an odd plan. Do you have a specific MOS your new degree will help you get?  And is it a slam dunk?  Military personnel systems are (in)famous for booting troops just prior to war or sucking up new recruits just before peace breaks out.  And if you do get in, is this a boost to a renewed career or a pit stop to a civilian career?  The trick is to avoid military personnel and civilian employment vagaries to hose you and your family.  You will want a contingency if the military won't take you back. Or if civilian life and job prospects are so sweet you or the wife doesn't want to go back.

ACA is very good but the new administration may dissolve it, revamp it or, counter to all ideological expectations, keep it "as is". You will need a contingency. 

I assume N.C. has the school with the degree you want. You and your wife may want to physically visit there, if only for a few days, to get a feel for the place. Just because you did Basic in a Southern state doesn't mean you lived there. Southern culture can be pleasant for a west coaster - but not always.  And the weather can compare to Alaska or Iraq depending on where you go.  It might be worth while to see if your wife can do online schooling so if/when she returns to work she can earn more.

The military's transition programs are a grab bag. Some are inevitably useless. But keep your eyes and ears open. There's a lot of good information and programs in them too. If your situation changes some of the useless crap might be worth gold.

Finally, some of your trepidation seems to be about the transition to civilian life itself.  You were a civilian yourself once, so don't let that worry you. Aside from the odd dumb question, civilian life is fine. It's just slow and laid back - a welcome, if awkward, rest. Hell, the real difficulty will be going back to the fast paced military life.

Good luck!

gj83

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Location: NC
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2016, 05:39:41 PM »
I live in Charlotte.  As long as you don't live in the apartments which are being built at a rapid pace outside of Uptown you should be fine on $1,500/ mo. 
UNCC (assuming that is the school you'll attend) is full of northerners.  Other than that it is a commuter college.  Charlotte isn't a college town...it is where you go after college.  If you want the college experience I'd recommend the Raleigh area  or Columbia, SC.  If you want a town with a lot of financial jobs then Charlotte is your town. 

I like Charlotte because real estate is very affordable, it's "just big enough" and the airport is a big hub so it is easy to go many places with just 1 flight.  I used to travel weekly and I thought about Atlanta or Charlotte.  Even though all my family lives in Atlanta I chose Charlotte instead.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

AllN4Ton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2016, 05:54:16 PM »
Welcome and Merry Christmas. I got out and went back in many moons ago. And from the sounds of it you're already avoiding mistakes I made like not having robust savings.

That said, it's an odd plan. Do you have a specific MOS your new degree will help you get?  And is it a slam dunk?  Military personnel systems are (in)famous for booting troops just prior to war or sucking up new recruits just before peace breaks out.  And if you do get in, is this a boost to a renewed career or a pit stop to a civilian career?  The trick is to avoid military personnel and civilian employment vagaries to hose you and your family.  You will want a contingency if the military won't take you back. Or if civilian life and job prospects are so sweet you or the wife doesn't want to go back.

ACA is very good but the new administration may dissolve it, revamp it or, counter to all ideological expectations, keep it "as is". You will need a contingency. 

I assume N.C. has the school with the degree you want. You and your wife may want to physically visit there, if only for a few days, to get a feel for the place. Just because you did Basic in a Southern state doesn't mean you lived there. Southern culture can be pleasant for a west coaster - but not always.  And the weather can compare to Alaska or Iraq depending on where you go.  It might be worth while to see if your wife can do online schooling so if/when she returns to work she can earn more.

The military's transition programs are a grab bag. Some are inevitably useless. But keep your eyes and ears open. There's a lot of good information and programs in them too. If your situation changes some of the useless crap might be worth gold.

Finally, some of your trepidation seems to be about the transition to civilian life itself.  You were a civilian yourself once, so don't let that worry you. Aside from the odd dumb question, civilian life is fine. It's just slow and laid back - a welcome, if awkward, rest. Hell, the real difficulty will be going back to the fast paced military life.

Good luck!

Merry Christmas to you too, and thanks for the quick reply.

My goal is to pick up an 18x contract, nothing is guaranteed, but even in a draw down, the groups are always accepting applications. I think with warfare continuing to become more irregular, the SOC community will be the last hit with manning and budget cuts. The degree isn't a requirement by any means, but I need the time off to spend with my family and get in shape before I try out for SF. I want to go to school in the mean time because the BAH with the new GI bill is so enticing, and if for whatever reason I couldn't go back, I would have a degree to fall back on.

There is nothing special about NC at all, my wife really wants to live on the east coast, and NC just seemed to be a solid middle ground for the weather, culture, and COL. I am currently deployed, but we plan on visiting for a few days when I return, scoping out good neighborhoods and such. I figured after dragging her around the world, I would let her pick where we live. We are definitely not limiting our options to NC, but its one of the few places that neither of us had a reason to discount.

If the military doesn't work out, I have no idea what I would do. I would hopefully have an engineering degree at least. I guess i'm putting all my eggs in this basket in a sense.

I guess I will just have to play the health insurance situation by ear.

Thank you for your insight, and your service.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2016, 06:00:04 PM by AllN4Ton »

AllN4Ton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2016, 05:59:27 PM »
I live in Charlotte.  As long as you don't live in the apartments which are being built at a rapid pace outside of Uptown you should be fine on $1,500/ mo. 
UNCC (assuming that is the school you'll attend) is full of northerners.  Other than that it is a commuter college.  Charlotte isn't a college town...it is where you go after college.  If you want the college experience I'd recommend the Raleigh area  or Columbia, SC.  If you want a town with a lot of financial jobs then Charlotte is your town. 

I like Charlotte because real estate is very affordable, it's "just big enough" and the airport is a big hub so it is easy to go many places with just 1 flight.  I used to travel weekly and I thought about Atlanta or Charlotte.  Even though all my family lives in Atlanta I chose Charlotte instead.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Hey thanks it's nice to hear from someone that lives there.

UNCC is the school I am looking at, I would like to live close enough to commute by bike, but far enough away to not be surrounded by partying students. I'm not looking for a college town at all, I'm old and boring and just want to keep my head down and grind.

I'm glad you like it there, Atlanta is another city we considered briefly, but ultimately we decided that Charlotte just has more of what we are looking for.

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5628
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2016, 08:45:04 PM »
If you are looking for jobs in the special operations community, you should be checking out the areas surrounding Ft. Bragg, NC.

AllN4Ton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2016, 08:59:40 PM »
If you are looking for jobs in the special operations community, you should be checking out the areas surrounding Ft. Bragg, NC.


I considered moving to Bragg or Benning, but decided to be a real life civilian for a while instead. To be honest I haven't heard a single good thing about Fayetteville from anyone that has ever been there. I am in no huge rush to go back to a military town. A 3 hour drive every once in a while isn't the end of the world. I'm not trying to pick up a contract right away, when the time comes, if moving to Bragg makes things easier, I will consider it then. But Charlotte has a MEPS, it has a gym, and it has recruiters, and right now that's really all I need.

I understand I would be able to make more contacts in the community in those places, but in the information age I can get 99% of the information anywhere in the world.

gj83

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Location: NC
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2016, 09:35:19 PM »
Bikeability will greatly increase after the blue line extension and cross Charlotte trail are completed. That will connect UNCC to uptown which connects south already.
The cross Charlotte trail will be over 26 miles from Cabarrus County to the SC border. 
There are plenty of apartments up near UNCC.  I don't know that part of town.  I rarely go north of NoDa.

I wouldn't live in Fayette-nam either.  I hear good things about UNC Wilmington, but I won't live in touristy places (another reason why I like Charlotte).

I know a couple guys who were Army recruiters here, but one just moved to Germany and the other to South Korea.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3196
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2016, 11:05:51 PM »
I want to take a year to work on my degree and improve my physical fitness to return to the military. I would work part time if I absolutely need to, but I will already be splitting my time between my family, the gym, and school. I would rather not add a job to the mix. If I attend school full time (12 credit hours) I will be eligible for a housing stipend of about $1500 for the Charlotte area, the exact amount depends on the zip code of the school I attend. From the little bit of searching I have done, it should very easily cover rent and utilities.
I understand that you’re focused on getting in shape for the SF qualification tests, but what’s the context for your one-year timeline?  How close are you to finishing a BS or BA degree?  When you return to the military, do you want to do it via OCS as an officer?  Those are highly individual personal choices, but even the SF enlisted would prefer to have you show up with a degree under your arm rather than being just a semester or two short. 

I guess I am just looking for guidance on how to live like a normal person, from normal people.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying the situation, but it looks to me like you’re yet another vet going back to college on the GI bill.  You’ll probably find a dozen or two vets even at UNCC, and the college has probably been working with vets for well over a decade.

The campus may have a Veterans Programs rep who can go into more detail on the academics and the student program.  For example when you’ve used up your Tricare transition benefits then you could shift to the college’s medical insurance.  They may have a pretty competitive program for student health, even including spouses & kids.

The military has transition programs, unfortunately they are mostly taught by people, such as myself, that have never had to walk the walk.
Um.  I hope you’ll talk with the people who are giving the transition seminar at your location and learn more about their resources as well as their backgrounds.  They’re technically restricted to teaching from the DoD/DoL curriculum anyway, and they can tell you a few personal stories, but their real value is not that they’ve “walked the walk”.  Their value is all the knowledge they’ve networked from their transitioned vets as well as the local community organizations and businesses.  There are literally thousands of organizations across the country who are trying to connect vets with military-friendly companies, and they’re stalking the TAP classes. 

If you hit a bunch of TAP duds at your current location, then when you settle at your college you might be able to do better with the local business community and the veteran’s organizations.

I am in an unusual situation I guess, being that I have no intention of getting a normal job when I get out, and my desire to re-enter active duty after a year of college. I am worried about what I will do about things like health care.
As you go through the separation process, here are a few other factors to consider:
- Do you want to affiliate with a local Reserve or National Guard unit?  I know the military has mobilized a lot of Guard SF servicemembers over the years, and if you’re in a Guard unit during college then you might have plenty of professional SF assistance at getting ready for the SF program.  A drill billet would make you (and your family) eligible for Tricare Reserve Select medical insurance.

- Do a thorough job with your separation physical and with a Veteran Service Officer for your VA disability screening.  I’d recommend against trying to avoid (or even hide) any discussion about veteran’s disability, because when you try to get back on active duty the MEPS will do the whole exam process anyway.  You can return to active duty with up to a 30% VA disability rating (especially in a valuable skill like SF) so you might as well get it documented and in your medical record.  If you’ve been around enough firearms and explosions then you can probably start with a 10% disability rating for tinnitus plus whatever the audiologist determines on the Compensation & Pension exam. 

- During your separation physical, ask the military to refer you to as many specialists as it takes to thoroughly diagnose (and treat) any issues that you uncover.  You might even want a couple months of physical therapy to improve your kinesiology or range of motion.  Again you’d prefer to deal with these questions up front rather than encounter them during your physical preps for SF, and then having to worry about the entrance exam.

- During that same period, work with a chapter of a vet’s organization like the VFW or the American Legion or the DAV to find a VSO who can help you research your questions.  You could submit a “fully-developed” disability claim with an effective date of the first day after you separate from active duty.  Depending on your income and the nature of your disability, you and your family might even be eligible for medical or dental care at the local VA clinic.

- When you get back on active duty, take a look at your GI Bill benefits to see if you’re able to transfer the remainder to your spouse or daughter. 

Cowardly Toaster

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
    • My MMM Forum Journal
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2016, 02:20:35 PM »
Make sure you document every medical condition you have no matter how minor it seems. I had some back problems that I almost wasn't able to get benefits for after I left because they weren't documented properly.

Get a full copy of your whole medical record before you walk out the door. It's much harder to get once you separate.

Get the contact info for all your bosses so they can write recommendations later if needed.

Document all training you can think of with the paperwork you have, including sea time if you were Navy or Coast Guard.

Educate yourself on all the benefits you are entitled too as a veteran and make a plan.

Explore your job options. You might be able to scoop up a great job in a field you haven't thought of.

Make sure to do your last travel claim for your move when you separate.


Cowardly Toaster

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
    • My MMM Forum Journal
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2016, 02:25:01 PM »
Most of all, take a deep breath and just know that you will be fine. It sounds like you have already avoided some of the bad habits a lot of military folks have. The real world is scary at first but everything will be ok.

When I first got out I had to adjust to the more laid back pace of the civilian workplace. People thought I had way too much energy at first.

Cowardly Toaster

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
    • My MMM Forum Journal
Re: Leaving the military
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2016, 02:27:07 PM »
Oh and keep in touch with as many military friends as you can. It will help to have them as contacts later.