A 20-year retirement is still a goal for many people in the military. It provides a financial safety net for the future and can help to ensure that benefits earned are immediately available. On the other hand, 20 years is a long time to stay in any industry nowadays and a military retirement is surely not for everyone. Therefore it is important to take stock and assess when the correct time to leave military service is.
As with the decision to join the military in the first place, the decision to leave can prove to be a challenging one. First and foremost, it means uncertainty for the near term future. The military provides many opportunities that are rarely provided in the civilian life. From free or subsidized housing to free health care, the perks of service add significant additional value to the pay check and potentially to the quality of life.
On the flip side though, multiple deployments, significant time away from friends and family, years spent in potentially undesirable duty stations, and poor leadership can more than make up for the benefits. So what factors should someone look for when they are deciding to get out?
Is work still enjoyable?
Many would argue that work is not meant to be fun, but let’s be honest – it should be. If the average person spends eight hours a day, five days a week at work, then the amount of life which is spent in the office far surpasses the time spent on vacations or traveling. So if work is not fun, then the majority of life is not fun either. Ask yourself if performing the duties of the job are something that bring pleasure or frustration. Most people know that old timer who looked like they should have left the service 10 years ago and are angry at the world. Most people also told themselves that they would never become that guy. Look in the mirror and see what your reflection looks like to others.
Have you plateaued?
Every position and job has a point where the learning process ends and it becomes repetitive. When every day becomes a blur and the same actions are repeated, life can become boring quickly. Innovative approaches to problems can help to resolve this dreary state of affairs, but if the future is as bleak as the present, then moving on may be the right answer.
Has your family given enough?
Single life is simple. Come home when you feel like it, answer to no one, and spend money when you want to. Marriage, children, and pets add new levels of responsibility which must be constantly balanced against time spent at work. Different positions and leadership will affect this work/life balance, but at the end of the day it is up the individual to decide what is best. If the family is no longer enjoying the military benefits, time, locations, or lack of career opportunities, then it may be time to look to greener pastures. Losing your family to follow a career is never the answer to personal happiness.
Do you have a skill set which is in demand in the civilian side?
Times change and so does the workplace demand. By developing skills and certifications while in the military, it can significantly improve opportunities outside of the service. Often times those certifications are paid for by the military as well, increasing options for growth and development. If you enjoyed your job but are hoping for more than the military can offer, perhaps the civilian side is a good transition to keep moving up in experiences. Those certificates are the way to get your foot in the door and if the positions are competitive in salary and location, then transitioning may be both timely and financially beneficial.
Have you accomplished your goals?
Most people did not join with the intent of staying in for 20 years. Most people wanted to accomplish, prove, or respond to something. Once this has been accomplished, then the question is what is that next goal in life? Many joined after 9-11 to defend their nation. After a few deployments, the majority saw that goal achieved and looked to the future. Those who left were not abandoning their friends or obligations, but heading towards their next personal challenge.
Remember that you are a product of your decisions, not the circumstances in the world. Decisions to join or leave the military are yours and yours alone, and they should be considered with all options on the table.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.