Preparing For Your Next Life: Finding a New You After Retirement

One of the greatest advantages of a career in either the military or law enforcement is the ability to retire while you are still young enough to enjoy that retirement. One of the biggest drawbacks is finding a way to fill your days after you take off the uniform, especially one that will keep you busy for the next 20 years or more.

RecruiterRegardless of which uniform they wear, few young recruits think about retirement. Sure, it might be a consideration or an afterthought when signing on the dotted line, but for most, 20 years seems like a lifetime away. Most hard chargers think about today, maybe tomorrow, but not 20 years of tomorrows.  The uniform and their unit or department becomes their identity. They become lifers. But, sooner or later retirement comes and the question becomes “What do I do now?”

It reminds me of a scene from the Tom Berenger film “Sniper.”  Berenger plays a gruff old veteran sniper who is forced to work with a younger, more modern partner. While making small talk, the veteran reveals his retirement plans – he is going to return to his home state of Montana and open a fishing guide service on a favorite stream he enjoyed during his youth. The only problem with his plan, as unveiled by his partner, is that his favorite stream is now a parking lot buried under years of development. Berenger’s character did not have a plan; he had a dream. In other words, he had no idea what he was going to do when this life ended and it was time to start another one.

Spending your days hunting, fishing or restoring your favorite hot rod will only last for so long. Few of us will retire in a financial position which will allow decades of doing nothing. Even if you are frugal enough to live comfortably on your retirement, doing nothing can be hard to deal with, especially after years of always doing something.  Either way you need a plan.

  1. Learn what skills are required to succeed in your 2nd career and acquire them before you retire; if you can do so on the government’s dime while still working so much the better.
  1. Who you know is often as important as what you know. At the same time you are building your resume, build your contact list. Never miss an opportunity to meet potential employers, clients or mentors who could assist you when it comes time.
  1. Be flexible. Having a plan is essential, but do not let your plan be so specific that its success depends on obtaining one specific position with one specific organization. Have options.
  1. Build the best resume possible. Having a good skill set does not mean much if you cannot articulate those skills to potential employers or clients. A professionally written resume is essential and may require hiring someone to write it for you. In the long run it will be money well spent.

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.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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