Whether by your choice or the military’s, getting out after serving multiple tours is an eventuality that happens to all of us and for various reasons. Some veterans get caught in a downsizing effort called a RIF (Reduction in Force). Officers can get caught in an “up or out” situation. For others, things happen, lives change, and they feel the time is right to move on.

Whatever your reason for getting out, it is necessary to plan for your departure. And while Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is a necessary part of your plan, it is a small part and you must go much deeper than that. ,. Part of that plan is to weigh your three main options and choose which one is right for you: get a job, go to school, or start a business.

Options After Just One Tour

Get a Job

Having been in for a while, you have a number skills – both hard and soft – you learned from your military service. The trick is to translate those skills steeped in military lingo and acronyms onto a resume that a non-military hiring official can understand. Part of that translation is to match your military skills against the requirements of the job.

One asset you may have that most non-military personnel do not is a security clearance. Depending on when yours was last reinvestigated, it can be good for up to two years after getting out. Having one can boost you to the top of the short list right away, as it will save that company time and money by hiring you … provided you otherwise meet the requirements of the position.

Even if you are going into the same line of work you did in the military, research the company with the job opening. Remember, your resume is only one step in the hiring process. The interview is an important part and one where you can show what you know about that company (and impress the interviewer). Also when answering questions, try to weave your experiences into your answer as it will add credibility to your experience.

Go to School

A large majority of veterans find that once out of the military is a perfect time to work on their post-secondary education by using their Post 9/11 GI Bill. They might be starting or finishing up an undergraduate degree, getting an advanced degree, learning a trade or getting a certification what will enhance their qualifications in getting a job. Or they may be going to school in preparation of starting their own business. The reasons for going to school are varied, but for many this seems like the right time before moving on to the next chapter in their life.

Start A Business

Many veterans have a dream of owning their own business. In preparation, some veterans will either work in their chosen field to get some experience, or go to school to either get some business training or to get qualified in their field. Having the experience and education greatly increases the chances your business will be successful. But other veterans may already feel they are prepared to jump right into entrepreneurship shortly after getting out.

One method of getting up and running quickly that offers a higher success rate is to buy a franchise. These are usually proven business choices, and you have a company behind you to guide you and do much of the marketing and promoting your product or service, along with training you. Franchising takes much of the risk out of starting a business.

And then there is the decision of choosing to be a sole proprietorship, form an LLC (if you will have a partner or two), or choose a different type more appropriate for your business model. Whether you are going to self-fund your new business or borrow the capital to get started, you must have a business plan.

In fact, most borrowers will not give you a business start-up loan without one. Even with self-funding, creating a business plan gives you more clarity on your mission, how long it will take to get up and running, more information about your product or service and how you plan to grow your business. Many call it a five-year plan, because if your plan carries your business out to the five-year mark, it stands a better chance of succeeding. A high percentage of new businesses do not make five years.

If you are getting out after serving several tours, weigh each of the three options and then decide which one will be right for you. It is never too early to start thinking about your future and which direction you want it to go.

Related News

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.