It’s finally happening––after 20 or so years of moving all over the world and long periods of time spent missing them on deployments, your spouse has announced that they’re going to be retiring. At this point, you’re likely experiencing a range of emotions. You might feel hopeful and excited, but also apprehensive about what comes next. There’s a lot for a military family to consider when planning for a successful retirement from the military: where you want to settle, what your finances look like, what each partner’s careers will look like and even more. Before getting discouraged, become familiar with the resources available that will help you and your spouse successfully navigate the military retirement process.
According to an article on Military.com, one of the best things you and your spouse can do to get ahead on retirement planning is to enroll in a Transition Assistance Program (TAP) as soon as your spouse knows they will retire. As you most likely already know, TAP provides a great deal of information about Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits (including support, disability compensation, education and healthcare) that your spouse and family can access post-retirement. If you are able to attend with your spouse, definitely go! A TAP course will supply you and your spouse with basic résumé prep and interview tips––but the overwhelming piece of advice fellow military spouses have been given is that you have to start early. If you and your spouse decide to complete the program a few weeks ahead of their official retirement date, there won’t be enough time to process the information and you might feel overwhelmed, like the program wasn’t worthwhile. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the program (spouse attendance is based on classroom capacity) and utilize their résumé-reviewing resources by having a résumé already prepared when you start the course. That way, you’ll be given valuable feedback instead of just instructions on how to write one, and you’ll feel more confident exiting the military world and putting yourself out there in the civilian world. Once you and your spouse have completed your TAP, there are plenty of additional, free resources you should look into to take your retirement planning to the next level.
There are plenty of helpful programs available to military spouses and retiring service members––one such program is sponsored jointly by the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense and is called the Expiration of Term of Service (ETS) Sponsorship Program. This initiative is designed to offer service members and their families with assistance in navigating employment, education and housing opportunities as well as VA healthcare and benefits. Their main focus is to locate a sponsor in the same city as a transitioning veteran to help that veteran and their family adjust to civilian life. Sponsors are certified by the VA and can be veterans themselves or civilians who all undergo the proper training to become a sponsor. The sponsor first conducts virtual meetings while the veteran is still serving and helps them prepare for retirement. Once the veteran retires, the goal is that they will meet in person. Contact will be made once a week and the pair will discuss goals and how the sponsor can help within their local setting. This program is aimed towards service members and their families who need additional support in navigating the transition at large––almost like an extension of TAP. While a sponsor might be able to offer basic advice and assistance in the job-search, it’s important to seek out a resource that can hand you every tool you need in order to approach your civilian career with confidence. There is only one program out there that provides customized, year-long, one-to-one mentorships with a corporate mentor and that is American Corporate Partners (ACP).
Founded in 2008, ACP has helped over 20,000 veterans and military spouses (combined) with their career confidence. ACP’s program is designed to pair you with a Mentor who has a wealth of experience in and knowledge of the industries and roles that you might be interested in joining as a civilian. Most commonly, Protégés (post 9/11 veterans and active duty military spouses) will work with their corporate Mentors on résumé writing and editing, interview preparation, networking, LinkedIn profiles, translating their military skills into language that can be understood by civilian hiring managers and more. Essentially, anything that has to do with building your career and developing yourself professionally is fair game for an ACP Mentorship. The process is personalized––an ACP representative will reach out to you within 24 hours of submitting your application. From there, you schedule an introductory phone call with ACP so they can explain to you the program commitments and get to know more about you and your goals. Your ACP point of contact will then perform a customized search for your Mentor, factoring in industry and career experience, age, location and personality. This program is available to all currently transitioning or retiring service members who served 180 days since 9/11 as well as all active duty spouses (you are eligible to apply up until your spouse’s official retirement date)! If you and/or your spouse are currently approaching retirement, don’t hesitate to apply for an ACP Mentorship today!
Retiring from the military after 20 or more years is bittersweet. On one hand, you are officially leaving a life you have known, loved and have grown used to for decades. On the other hand, you are now free to start exploring career options that won’t be limited to transferable certifications or solely remote opportunities. Now is the time to take advantage of the resources available to you so you can begin to plan for your and your family’s future. Good luck, and remember that there is always support available to you.
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