There comes a point in every Soldier’s career when they must decide to stay in, re-enlist or retire. The decision is seldom an easy decision. Whether you are a first enlistment Soldier or experienced career Soldier, I want to share with you six questions you should ask yourself before your ETS or retire from the Active Duty Army.
# 1: Where Do I See Myself in Five Years?
I always used to ask my Soldiers this question. What is your life plan? Where do you see yourself in five, 10 or even 20 years? What are your long-term goals? If you haven’t done so already, take some time to answer this question. Take out a sheet of paper and write down your life’s purpose, your long-term goals, and short-terms goals. This will really help you with your decision making process.
# 2: What Do I Want to Do for a Living?
Most people in life don’t know EXACTLY what they want to do for a living. Personally, I find that sad. Life is too short to waste it away. You really need to decide what you enjoy doing and match that up with your skill-set, education and job experience. I really recommend you take out a piece of paper and make a list of things you are good at. Write down your skills, education, experience and what you have to offer. Try to match up those skills with a career field you can excel in.
# 3: Where Do I Want to Live?
If you’ve been in the Army for any period of time, you’ve probably traveled extensively and lived in many different places. Now would be a good time to talk with your spouse and family about where you want to settle down and establish you roots. Make sure you check the job market in these potential locations to see if there are enough opportunities for you to find the job you want.
# 4: What Does My Family (spouse and kids) Think About Me Leaving the Military?
I think it would be selfish and foolish not to counsel with your spouse or significant other about your decision to stay in or leave the military. Find out what they think and want. Make sure you are both unified with your decision to ETS. If you aren’t unified, spend some time talking about the subject until you are both on the same sheet of paper.
# 5: Do I Have Enough Money Saved for My Transition Time?
This is a question that few Soldiers ever think about. Once your final Army pay runs out, what will you do while you are still searching for a job? I recommend you try to save up at least a few thousand dollars prior to your ETS so you will have money to live on if you can’t find a job right away.
# 6: Should I Join the ARNG or USAR and Continue My Service?
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the Army and still enjoy it, why not join the Army National Guard or Army Reserves? This is a great way to supplement your income and continue your military service, while starting your own civilian career. At a minimum, sit down with a Career Counselor or recruiter and find out what options are available to you.
I’m not against anyone leaving the Army. My only hope is that they put some conscious thought into their decision and weigh the pros and cons of doing so. By asking yourself these six questions before you ETS or retire from the Active Duty Army, you will be well prepared and can make the right decision for you and your family.
What are your thoughts?