A Salute to Military Spouses That Have Made the Civilian Transition

Military Spouse Appreciation Day began in 1984 as a way to recognize the core of the support system for our service members. Spouses play an important role in keeping up morale in the military, which is a noteworthy accomplishment.

But that is far from the only responsibility resting on the shoulders of military spouses. They also have to handle a lot of changes. There’s the change of duty station that can move the family across the country or even across the world. There are the deployments that can cause stress and changes to the family dynamic. Then there’s the civilian transition.

When a Veteran decides to separate from the military or retire, it’s a huge lifestyle change for everyone. It can be particularly hard on the veteran who may question their decision or have a difficult time finding their new role in life. But spouses are there to keep them going.

Here are a few things that military spouses and service members may experience as they transition to civilian life and tips on how to navigate the changes.

Getting to Decide Where to Live

After years of having very little control over where you live, suddenly all the possibilities are open. Deciding where to live is one of the first big decisions a veteran and their spouse has to make.

Many couples decide to take one of three approaches:

  • Stay in the current city where they’re already established.
  • Move closer to family where they’ll have a supportive network of people.
  • Relocate where there are better job prospects or a new job is already lined up.

As soon as retirement or separation is a sure thing, couples need to have a frank discussion about living arrangements. Discuss all of the possibilities noted above and any other factors that are important to you, like weather and educational opportunities. On top of having the freedom to live wherever you want, you’ll also no longer receive housing assistance, which can affect affordability.

The Relocation Assistance Program can provide counseling during the transition, and the Travel Management Office can help you line up moving services once you decide where you want to live.

Loss of Camaraderie, Identity or Sense of Purpose

Spouses may find that their husband or wife is having a hard time dealing with the sense of loss that can come when they leave the military. For many service members, the military is a large part of their identity. It also gives them a strong sense of purpose and builds strong bonds between service members.

As their spouse, you have to help pick them up when they’re feeling down and be there when they need someone to talk to. You can help your veteran regain their sense of purpose by adjusting their focus to the family. Spouses can also play a role in planning social activities where the veteran can continue interacting with their old co-workers and military friends.

It’s also important for spouses to recognize the signs of depression and to get their husband or wife professional help when they need it.

Finding a New Civilian Career

For military service members that want to stay in the workforce, civilian life can be intimidating and frustrating. In the military, there was a clear path to take and clear objectives to meet to promote. Things aren’t always so straightforward in the civilian world.

One of the most common issues is understanding how to apply the training, education and experience gained in the military to civilian jobs. Sometimes simply translating this onto a resume can be an uphill battle. Stress can build for veterans that know they’re highly capable yet get passed up for jobs because their skills aren’t being recognized.

Getting insight into how their skills are best suited for the civilian world can make the transition much easier. Your6 was developed to help veterans do just that. The CareerChoiceGPS™ assessment tool provides an in-depth look at strengths and capabilities. It also helps identify careers where a veteran’s skills are appreciated.

Learn more about the tools that can help you or your spouse find a fulfilling civilian career.

Regardless of the resources that are used, it may take time for a veteran to figure out which career path they want to pursue after separation or retirement. Spouses have to give their veteran the time and space they need to make the decision. And once they make the decision, it’s important to show them full support to help them gain the confidence they need to make their mark in the civilian workforce.