We are coming up on a year, sports fans. One. Whole. GLORIOUS. Year. And, I've come to realize there were so many things "they" tell you to consider and worry about that I wish someone had told me the real story. But, I didn't know anyone personally that was retiring, or had retired recently that I could ask. But, I can tell you don't listen to the folks that generate panic in you. That's complete garbage. You have exit classes that explain all the healthcare stuff and pay stuff, so don't worry about that. I was the person who feared leaving the military. HA! What a waste that was! Being out of the military is AWESOME. A W E S O M E! We are now a veteran family. It's official and all.
So, here is my account. My own account.
1. It's just not that bad. We all kinda freak out about the very thought of leaving the comfort of the military. Who am I? What do I do? What does this mean? Just stop. Quit overthinking. I'm here to tell you that after a LIFETIME as a military "last four" the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty dang cool. You're gonna love it! A lot.
2. You'll miss seeing your husband or wife in uniform. Sigh. There is just no way around this and I still miss it. There are days when I see other service members in uniform and I look at my husband and think "I miss that" but then I also notice his super cool HOT beard! HA! He's WAY hotter now!
3. Don't panic about jobs. Just plan. Our last duty station was one where had some control over it. We picked a place that would gradually reduce my husband's number of flights (weaning him off being an adrenaline junkie) and give him some time to consider job options. Dallas/Fort Worth is a central location for pilots so we "picked" there. So, think about your last duty station a bit. Choose wisely and don't panic. The jobs are there so don't freak out.
4. This sort of ties into 3. Save your terminal leave. We used it ALL at the very end for him to look for a job WHILE getting paid. So, that's a good idea. Save a little extra cash-we put away a nice bit so we could take some time to make sure we made the best decision for the next 25 years. And, that leads to,
5. Take your time. Don't take the first offer because you are afraid to be without a job. Choose wisely with your offers. Do you want to be near family? Can you find a job you'd love there? Because he/she, assuming they will be the primary bread winner, needs to be happy. The military filled in a lot of the gaps to feel fulfilled in a job. Your spouse is going to be looking for that---whether they realize it or not---in their next job. Give them the space to seek it out. They and you will be looking for a family-esque company and do not settle for something less. We waited six months. Not that we weren't offered a job within six months, we chose VERY carefully and waited for the offer we wanted.
6. You get one move, folks. One. Then, you are on your own or on the dime of your new career. We delayed so we could use it when we moved to our final job stop. So, don't waste it and think you have to be out of your place the day it's official. You don't. You have ONE YEAR. So, after retirement plus terminal leave (for us that was almost 14 months) you need to have an address where they need to ship your stuff. We simply moved into a one year rental after our house sold (we wanted that DONE before we retired because we wanted to be able to move quickly if that came up) and kept the bare minimums. We personally moved most of our stuff into a local storage facility and waited. It was the BEST thing we ever did because now if we move out of the DFW area (which we are), the move is paid for. Minus our dadgum cars. All eight of them. And, the boat. And, the trailer. Short version: our house sold, we moved our stuff into a local storage facility over the course of two months, took off for the summer, rented a home and got our stuff out of storage and waited...now, when we move in July to our final spot it'll be paid for.
7. Reconnect. While you have him/her home, reconnect as a family. We spent the entire summer with family and did nothing but hang out. No work, no deployments, no late hours. Just hanging out. And, I did not realize the stress my husband was under until, well, he wasn't. All of a sudden, he looked ten years younger (but with a beard) and well-rested. Use the time you have between the military and the rest of your life to be happy. You've earned it so give your selves some time and space to breathe. He's not going to be leaving again. You can sleep well now. Life with the military is not going to kick you in the teeth tomorrow, or the next day or the next day. He's still going to be there when you wake up!