Three things they don’t tell you when you are retiring from the military…the list is vast but here are a few of the things I learned.
Transitioning is hard. Plain and simple. For 20+ years you were part of something bigger than yourself and the meaning behind serving your country cannot be put in to words. You will feel lost and empty as you search for your new place in life. I liken the feeling to post-partum depression (something I suffered with quite severely after my second daughter was born) where you just feel like something is MISSING, well, because IT IS. And I can say while the feeling does fade with time, it never quite leaves completely.
No one in the civilian world (at least not many I have encountered over the last almost 8 years I’ve been out) will care what rank you were, what medals and awards you received or what positions you may have held. It has no meaning to most in the civilian world, and it leaves you feeling a bit slighted for all the hard work you did while you served.
You will never have a core group of friends like the ones that you served with in the military. My Air Force brothers and sisters and I will always hold a very special bond, and I can go months without talking to them and then pick up the phone as if we haven’t skipped a beat. I have not been able to find another group of friends like I had when I was in the Air Force, and I miss that bond dearly. Sure, I have friends, but fleeting friends that entire my life for a season rather than a lifetime.
But at the end of the day, nothing can take away the fact that you served whether in theater or stateside and the military will always be a part of who you are as a person. Hang on to that pride, and never let it go.
Retirement photo, 20 years later
Were you or any of your family members in the military? I come from a long line of prior military members. Did they struggle when they got out? I urge you to be there for anyone that may be struggling not only with retiring from the military but life in general.
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