Civilian Life 101: Here’s what you need to know before you take off that uniform
By: Natalie Gross
When you arrive at a new duty station in the military, you know where to go for information on housing, health care and your child’s new school.
Often, those resources are all under one roof, said Beth Kubala, a senior director at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
“It’s very different when you transition and you relocate to Hometown USA,” she said.
That’s just one of example of how military and civilian life are as different as apples and oranges.
Here are six other things you’ll need to know about navigating life outside of the military, courtesy of Kubala and other experts.
1. Housing and health care will cost money.
You already know this, of course. But knowing it and living it are two different things.
“Being more mindful of financial management” and planning one to five years out is a huge piece of the transition, said Lt. Col. Rynele Mardis, southeast region director for the Army’s Soldier for Life program.
You’ll need to consider not only the cost of where you plan to live, but also the location, which affects where your child will go to school and your own personal health and wellness, he said. Tax deductions and benefits available to veterans are other things to consider, especially for prospective homeowners, and they can vary by state.
“If a family is accustomed to living on post, the process of procuring a loan, securing a house, going through a home inspection — all that can be daunting, especially if it’s happening later in life where many people have experienced that earlier,” said Kubala, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.
Housing is one of the top three areas of need among veterans who utilize IVMF’s AmericaServes program, a network of community-based organizations that Kubala helps oversee. Often, the requests are for help finding affordable housing options, which can be a challenge even for veterans receiving the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s housing stipend.