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Is This Our Career?

One of the biggest challenges of military families is deciding when it is time to step out of the service and join the civilian world and job market. I have seen many fine military personnel and their families make that decision and most had great reasons when they did step out! Some examples included the the family that wanted their high schoolers to stay at one school; others had a great job opportunity sitting there waiting for them; most had seen enough moves and long separations; some were just tired of the military routine or had missed a promotion cycle/opportunity and with their disappointment had decided to move on as a civilian.

After I retired I saw the opposite too! I had a friend at my civilian job who was a member of the National Guard and decided to go active duty due to the benefits he saw that I retained as a retired member. His spouse was also a Guard member and they made a team decision to go active which is how most military members decide when it is time to leave as well. The big draw for them was a steady retirement check which the corporation we were working for did not offer!

Since military families play a huge role in the decision whether to make the military a career, it can be critical that they are well informed about this decision. With experience as a career military person and seeing the outside civilian work force I have to say there are many benefits to military service that the current economy does not bestow on our civilian friends and their family members.

I saw loyalty from the services to their members offering training and opportunity which many or most civilian corporations do not offer. Be sure to look at all the options before you decide which course of action is best for you! Consider the different pay, bonuses and housing and other allowances you receive. How about the commissary benefit? On base child care? The chance to travel to or live in locations you would never have seen is frequently overlooked as well! Then balance that out with family needs, stability (possibly, as many corporations are here today and gone tomorrow), spouse employment, the cost of groceries and the commute which is getting very expensive compared to what many military folks see today (in on base or post housing for many). Consider risk factors such as physical and mental health as well which can be major concerns with combat stress and family fears involved. Of course, each is different and we make our own analysis but be sure to consider all the facts before jumping over the fence to greener pastures.

Are you making the career decision now? What factors are important to you? Give us some that I haven't mentioned or ones that need to be expanded on or discussed! Help your neighbor and friends with a discussion of why and how you made your decision!

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