Guest column by Cassidy Drew
For those facing the prospect of retirement, transitioning from the Navy to a civilian role can be a daunting task, especially for those who leave with many decades worth of service behind you. The Navy provides a definitive sense of purpose and belonging to an individual and leaving that familiar territory can be incredibly hard for many. But, for Navy veterans, the outlook of early retirement should offer an exciting opportunity to do all those things that you never had the opportunity to do. Start a brand-new career, spend some time volunteering, or, of course, simply relax nd spend quality time with the family — maybe even take up a new hobby. Whether you choose to go straight into retirement after your service ends, or enter the civilian workforce, deciding what to do next can be challenging for retired veterans. So, what is the next step after a career in the US Navy?
Enjoy a Second Career After Early Retirement
Life after the Navy can take some adjustment, even for those choosing early retirement. But it means veterans can finally choose their own priorities and what they want to do with their future. As a veteran, you will inevitably bring valuable skills to anything you choose to do. The skills you take from your service, such as leadership skills, organizational skills, work ethic, a strong sense of loyalty and commitment, are extremely valuable in civilian life. Help is available to veterans wanting to get into the civilian workforce, including online workshops offering support to veterans coping with career adjustment. The Veterans’ Employment and Career Transition Advisor provides job-search tools and one to one support for veterans.
Use Your Skills and Experience to Help Others
Volunteering can help veterans to integrate better into society when they retire. First and foremost, volunteering satisfies that need to serve which often draws veterans into the armed forces at the start of their military career. It also satisfies the strong sense of duty and responsibility and can be extremely cathartic. It can be the ideal first step for veterans leaving military service, as it helps you connect with people, serve the community (and country) and develop important skills. Depending on their skill set and area of interest, veterans can help build homes for people with disabilities, volunteer at animal shelters or provide guidance and counseling to young people. There are also several volunteer organizations that help provide practical and emotional support to wounded veterans which may be worth considering.
Enjoy Overseas Travel on Your Terms
You may have seen a lot of the world during your service career, but there’s nothing like being able to travel under your own steam. After spending years on foreign territory and braving the seas, traveling for sightseeing and relaxation can be very therapeutic for veterans. Traveling is also a great way for you to see the country you have defended for so long. Veterans are eligible for a number of travel benefits offered by various travel agencies and the government and even certain theme parks and resorts give discounts to veterans too. Certain initiatives like Vacations for Warriors offer free vacations to veterans hurt in combat while the Space A program by the government allows veterans to use military terminals instead of commercial airlines.
If you have recently retired or hoping to take early retirement soon, life after the uniform can be an exciting but also daunting time. However, your retirement should be seen as a rewarding stage in your life. The opportunities are endless, especially with the skills and knowledge you have developed during your naval career. While the sea may be a sailor’s first love, the land of the free shall always be home to those who serve and defend it.