What do you do when you’re about to make a huge change to your career and lifestyle? You plan.
When it comes to big changes, transitioning from the ADF is up there with the biggest. That’s why the lead up to leaving the Army, Air Force or Navy is a structured event and needs to be given the time it deserves.
In a nutshell, everything will change.
The career pathway you’ve always known (or at least for several years) will change radically when you transition. So you need to consider what you’ll do with your time and immense skills after transition.
Some veterans want to maintain their military career on a smaller scale and take the step across to the Reserves. Others look to civilian employment opportunities, while others like Karyn Hinder develop their own businesses.
Whatever you turn your hand to, you must have a plan. As retired Major Jeffrey Morgan says in this video, “it surprised me that it has taken longer than I expected to find work.”
You’ll also need to get your health care sorted before you transition. Defence Health Regional Rep, Paula Vetter, took a full 12 months to repair her ankle injury with surgery and rehabilitation before her transition from Army.
It also takes time to understand how the public health system works, any entitlements you may have through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and whether you need private health insurance. “It’s not as straight forward as you think it should be,” says Jeffrey. Ex-serving HQ can help you navigate the health system.
Retired Group Captain, Phil Lavelle, recommends all veterans attend the transition seminars that are available to discharging personnel. “It’s all about understanding the differences between military life and civilian life – in particular, superannuation and health care,” he says.
“The transition centres can also provide you with a list of advocates and other valuable assistance,” says Phil. “If you’re prepared, it’s not that big a deal. But my one piece of advice is, do not leave it to the last minute. Don’t assume things will happen, make them happen.”
The daily camaraderie of military life will be missing post transition and you’ll need to plan for this too. Paula’s tip is to “keep in touch with your military mates – they’re the foundation to your character and you’ll never lose this emotional connection.”
Transition will take time. But support is at hand.