I remember as a young child making treasure maps. I'd take a brown paper grocery bag and cut the long side off. Then with the scissors, I'd carefully cut an odd shape that had several unfinished edges. The next step involved carefully lighting the edges of the paper on fire and quickly blowing out the flames. This created a vintage, Pirate-worthy look. Finally, I drew the map. It led to a buried "treasure" in the deserts of El Paso, TX. My Friends had fun following the treasure map to find the sack of coins.

When you think about discovering State & Local Resources for Veterans, you may not need a map. Thoughts of organization names come to mind rather quickly to most people. When asked, any Veteran can probably rattle off several names with "top-of-mind" name recognition in seconds! The Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and countless others roll off the tongue at the speed of your favorite Rapper or Auctioneer. You'll find plenty of riches in these and other organizations if you search.

Here's another source of treasure to consider though. The valuable prizes can be found by introducing yourself to other Veterans and Military Spouses who've gone before you.

Every weekend, I see convoys of vehicles driving to a large sports complex near my neighborhood. This is where the weekend Softball Tournaments happen on Saturdays and Sundays. You can usually tell who the Troops are based on their "high & tight" haircuts, military jargon vernacular, and bumper stickers on their cars. They take the field with the mission to win the game. I just wonder how many of these same Troops take the time to strike up a conversation with the Civilians they're playing against.

Hmmm, could there be a job lead in their midst? Could the opposing team include someone who is ready to hire a Veteran? Could the conditions for improving your chances of getting hired be any better? Did anyone take the first step in breaking the ice to make a new Friend?

Then there's the whole social environment to consider. Military people travel in packs. You don't need a treasure map in order to find your favorite restaurant or watering hole. But, when your Off-Duty time takes you and your large group of Uniformed Personnel off your base or military installation, do you maximize the opportunity?

How many times do you interact with the Civilians at the bar? Do you exchange business cards with complete strangers? Do you even own business cards? When others sound off with those 5 words, "Thank You for your service!" is there any further dialogue beyond your acknowledging their kind words?

I said all this to remind you that now is the time to start meeting new people. With the upcoming reductions-in-force, early retirements, and other scenarios that might cut your military career short, it might be a good idea to try to meet at least one new person next time you're out and about.

Who knows? You might get one step closer to avoiding the ranks of the unemployed.

And, more importantly, you'll be one step closer to finding a treasured career opportunity after the military - one that brings out all those hidden treasures buried deep inside you that employers need.