Leaving the military community may seem like an exciting time, but it can be a huge adjustment. When my husband left active duty to join the Army Reserve many years ago, I assumed that a sense of community would be there and I would easily adjust to civilian life. This was not the case, and it took me a while to determine how to do so.
- Get involved
It took me a couple of moves with the corporate world to figure this out. Find something to help connect you to your local community. Volunteer or connect to an organization you care about. It could be a sports team, veteran’s organization, civic organization, or church. Just get involved with others who have a like interest.
- Learn About Your Community
In the military, each community has many similarities. There is the Exchange, Commissary, and Morale Welfare and Recreation that provide much of what you need to know about the local military community. The civilian world is different. Take some time and be a tourist, explore your new (or old) community. Shop the local stores. Attend local festivals. Find crazy landmarks. Explore the park system. Really get to know what is available. Learn resources and recreational opportunities. They are there, but often are not as easy to find on a military installation.
- Throw a Neighborhood Party
I am not one who loves throwing a party, but it is a great way to get to know your neighbors. In the military, we have an instant way to create social connections due to the various functions we hold, such as hails and farewells or military balls. Often neighbors have been together for years and you might feel like an outsider. Throwing a neighborhood barbecue or brunch can help you connect and become more of an insider.
- Get to Know the Corporate Culture
Just as the military has it’s own culture, so do corporations. Find a mentor in your company to help you understand the culture of your company. Some companies have a formal mentorship program, so if the opportunity presents itself jump on it! If the company has a veteran’s group, join it, as these veterans have made the transition and can assist you to understand the culture.
- Be Patient with Yourself
Seriously, give yourself a break. You did not learn all you know about the military culture in a few days or months. With the military, you had Basic Training or the Officer Basic Course to help provide you a head start. Few corporations offer anything like this. Give yourself some time to adjust. It will not happen overnight.
These are my top five, what would you add?