There is a lot of work to be done before you separate out of military service. It not only marks the ending of a career, but likely a complete uprooting of your life and drastic modification to your lifestyle.
First off, find your separation date. If you will not be allowed to reenlist you may have one-two years to prepare for your ETS. This will allow you to be well prepared for transition to civilian life. JAG and your local REUP NCO can help you identify the benefits you will be entitled to according to the type of discharge you are being separated under.
Regardless of how you will leave the service (ETS or separation) it is imperative you understand your benefits and immediately begin planning your transition to the civilian sector. The economy is tough. Consider the following questions:
- Do your military skills translate easily into a civilian job skill?
- What can you do while in the service to acquire additional skills?
- Can you attend civilian schooling to improve your chances for success in the civilian sector?
- Will you have GI Bill benefits to attend college upon separation from service? If so what is your plan to put this benefit you use?
- How much leave will you have at separation?
- Are you entitled to terminal leave or permissive TDY?
- Did you suffer any medical related problems as a result of your service?
- Are there any upcoming job fairs in the area that are relevant to your industry?
- Do any local companies prefer to hire veterans? Contact local veterans groups for this information.
Securing your medical benefits
Are your medical problem documented in your records? Sit down and go through your medical records and develop a list of issues from head to toe. Prepare your request for benefits. Sometimes it is a good idea to seek assistance from individuals who have a medical background so they can assist you in determining what your medical records say. Do you have a permanent or temporary profile? If so ensure you have a copy for your records. See a VA counselor immediately to see what you might be entitled to.
There are numerous organizations to assist your separation from service the key is to align your needs will organizations that provide assistance in finding jobs and can assist you in understanding your benefits. The time to start is now. Do not delay. This is your time to plan.