Life is all about transition. We learn that when we are in school. I was told by a mentor at one time that going to school was a way to learn about the future. For example, when you are in college you may or may not get a good teacher. In fact some teachers start the class by saying they are not going o give top grades. How does a straight “A” student deal with that? It is very difficult. However, we all know in the future we are going to have tough bosses and be put in unfair situations. That begins to explain why after the military it is an adjustment.
I was in the Army from 1970 through 1973. I spent 3 years with a multitude of different tasks and jobs and I spent one year at war in Vietnam.
My job in the Army was finance. That meant I paid guys once a month and dealt with pay problems. However, when I got to Vietnam I was often on a “fast team” which meant I went into the “Bush” and paid troops where they were which was dangerous and scary. Another thing happened in Vietnam. I was a pretty good keyboard player and had been in several rock bands so I was selected to be in a rock band.
When I came back to the States I was moved to the IO Office and had a television and radio program.
When I left the service I wanted to finish my degree. I now had the G.I. Bill so money was not a problem. Also, the State of Illinois gave me $100 as well as tuition. I wanted to study Business and Sociology. I had about two years completed.
My plans were changed a bit when I met a wonderful (and of course cute) girl. We were married soon simply because we wanted to be together and we have been together for the last 37 years. However it was necessary to get a job.
In those days (the 1970s) there were a lot of independent employment agencies. I got a job as a medical underwriter trainee. I went from that to field sales and did very well. I ultimately went back to the office and by 1983 I was the youngest vice-president that the company I worked for had ever had and that was at age 34.
During this period I studied and got my degree although my success mostly came from “on the job training.”
After a few years my wife and I had and raised three boys.
That was my life after the military, sort of.
When I got out of the military I had been through a war. I had an attitude. I was used to living with life and death. When I first got a job I was late all of the time. I was always in trouble. Why was I in trouble?
I couldn’t get excited about being a couple of minutes late. It just wasn’t “life or death.” It was a transition just like I mentioned at the outset of the article.
It is an adjustment to get back to what is important based on “civilian rules.”
The other problem I had was if you hadn’t gone to Vietnam you were not as good as me.
Life after the military is not easy by any means. People do make it but it is always helpful if people reach out to and as a veteran that is what I have tried to do, make friends that will take an interest in me and I will take an interest in them.