Service member with American Flag

Military transition action timeline

   

Service member smiling with family

18 months

Gather information you need to make decisions about the future.

Start a where to live list.

  • Begin your “Where do I want to live list?” with three to five locations.
  • Use the internet to check out cost of living, job market and other factors for each location.
  • Research your eligibility for a VA-guaranteed home loan and find out more about how VA home loans work.
  • If you’re thinking about joining the Reserves or National Guard, look for Reserve/National Guard unit locations.
  • Narrow your list of places to live down to your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices.

Describe your perfect job.

  • What kind of job is perfect for you?
  • How will you use your current skills in a new job?

Get the facts on available support and necessary paperwork.

Start and grow your network.

  • Write down three things you'll do to start or grow your network.
  • Make sure you utilize the services provided by military support organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
  • Start making informal contacts with people who can provide support as you transition (including fellow military peers and people in the civilian workforce who have jobs or work at companies you might be interested in).

Networking 

Build on your network throughout your transition —and after. For suggestions, download the Networking Self-Study Guide.

Finance

Start a transition fund that will cover three to six months’ living expenses. Decide how much money you'll need by creating a finance budget and then saving a portion of your earnings from each paycheck until you reach your goal. Throughout the year — live and virtual — to create awareness and encourage conversations about social and economic issues.

Create a finance budget
Financial checklist for transitioning military members 

Skills

Identify the qualifications you'll need for your perfect job. 

Resources

Check out the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). It provides Active Component Service members (including AGR, AR and FTS) four major components:

  • Pre-Separation Counseling - mandatory and conducted by the Military Services
  • Department of Labor (DOL) Transition Assistance Program Employment
  • Workshops — facilitated and sponsored by DOL
  • Veterans Benefits Briefings — facilitated and sponsored by VA

Department of Defense Transition Assurance Porgram 

Female service member smiling with colleagues

12 months

Start making concrete plan about your future.

Select one of the following paths.

Get a civilian job
Get a federal job
Start a company
Go back to school

Colleagues in hard hats discussing building plans

Get a civilian job

Find out which companies have a good reputation for hiring veterans, such as Bank of America.

  • Talk with recently retired or separated veterans about the companies they're working for.
  • Using websites like LinkedIn and Indeed, compile a list of companies that might be able to use your skills.

 

Explore your career potential.

  • Begin lists of your talents, skills and knowledge.
  • Check your lists with several people who know you well.
  • Use your information to begin building your resume.
  • As needed, use resume builders available on the internet.

 

Determine if you need more education or training.

  • Research the skills needed for careers you might want to pursue.
  • Determine which of those skills will require additional education or training.
  • Find out about military educational benefits you may be eligible for.

Networking 

Add people to your network in the job or companies you are interested in.

Finance

Gather information from the internet on salaries for potential career choices using websites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor.

Skills

Identify civilian jobs that are commensurate with your position in the military.

Civilian jobs

Resources

Utilize the resources on the eBenefits web site.

eBenefits

Woman smiling at work

Get a federal job

Start your research on government jobs.

  • See which federal jobs allow you to transfer your experience and training and at what pay level you'll be classified.
  • Set up a USAJobs account so you can develop saved searches and have job alerts sent to your email.

 

Review application forms and start a resume.

  • Begin lists of your talents, skills and knowledge.
  • Check your lists with several people who know you well.
  • Use your information to begin building your resume.
  • As needed, use resume builders available on the internet.

 

Determine if you need more education or training.

  • Research the skills needed for careers you might want to pursue.
  • Determine which of those skills will require additional education or training.
  • Find out about military educational benefits you may be eligible for.

Networking

Add people to your network who have government jobs.

Finance

Gather background information on working for the government.

Skills

Identify federal jobs that are commensurate with your position in the military.

Federal jobs

Resources

Read this article, for example, to get some basic information on how to get a job in the federal government.

Careers outlook

Man smiling working servicing a vehicle

Start a company

Check out the SBA (Small Business Administration) site.

  • Explore the site to find out what services and training are offered
  • Explore any SBA grants or loans for which you may be eligible.
  • Bookmark locations on sites that you want to return to.

 

Check out the VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization site.

  • Explore the site to find out what services and training are offered.
  • Explore the site to find out what opportunities exist for veterans starting a business.
  • Bookmark locations on sites that you want to return to.

Networking

Add people to your network who have started their own business.

Finance

Start gathering information about the financial aspects of starting a business including start-up costs, ongoing costs and potential return. Research programs for funding veterans' businesses.

Calculating start-up costs

Programs for funding

Skills

Research entrepreneurial skills and lessons for starting a business.

Lessons for vets starting their own business

Resources

Bookmark the SBA and VA sites. Explore them often. Download useful resources. Be sure to start a list of potential clients, vendors and suppliers for your business.

SBA website

VA entrepreneurial website

Recent graduate with degree smiling

Go back to school

Use the VA’s decision-making tools to help you get the most from your benefits.

  • Determine if you want to stay in the same career or switch to a new one.
  • Determine if you want or need to go to school full time or part time.

 

Determine what educational training is required for your career.

  • Research the skills and training needed for career(s) you might want to pursue.
  • Identify they type of degree, training or certification you will need to pursue.
  • Make a list of your talents, skills and knowledge.
  • User your information to being building your resume.

 

Check our your eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

  • Download the program pamphlet for additional information.
  • Research states with special education benefits for veterans.
  • Research veteran-friendly schools that offer your speciality.

Networking

Add people to your network who are considering enrolling or are enrolled in an education program.

Finance

Gather information on the internet about which jobs are going to be in high demand and potential salaries for careers in those fields.

Skills

Start to refresh skills needed for tests, such as the GMAT, confirm schedules for testing. Take preparation classes.

Education programs and testing

Resources

Search the internet for schools and states that have special benefits for veterans returning to school. Be sure to bookmark the sites.

Female service member speaking with colleague

9 months

Focus on refining your ‘story.’

Select one of the following paths.

Get a civilian job
Get a federal job
Start a company
Go back to school

Colleagues in hard hats discussing building plans

Get a civilian job

Review your talents, skills and knowledge and identify companies that could use them.

  • Review your perfect job and identify companies that meet those criteria.
  • Look at companies that have facilities in the places you want to consider living.

 

Begin translating your talents, skills and knowledge into civilian language.

  • Ask someone in your network to review your civilian descriptions.
  • Practice describing yourself in civilian language to someone in your network.

Networking

Work on your networking etiquette by using civilian language to describe yourself. Be sure to carefully maintain your social media footprint.

Finance

Create a rough budget based on your plans for the future.

Steps to create a budget

Skills

Continue to refine the description of your skills in civilian language.

Resources

Get photos in civilian clothing and a civilian email address. Be active on LinkedIn or other professional websites. Build out your profile on these sites.

Woman smiling at work

Get a federal job

Determine your job category.

  • Review your talents, skills and knowledge lists and identify job categories, such as accounting or telecommunications, where those skills will be valuable.
  • Review your perfect job and identify federal positions that meet those criteria.

 

Begin translating your talents, skills and knowledge into civilian language.

  • Ask someone in your network to review your civilian descriptions.
  • Practice describing yourself in civilian language to someone in your network.

Networking

Work on your networking etiquette by using civilian language to describe yourself. Be sure to carefully maintain your social media footprint.

Finance

Create a rough budget based on your plans for the future.

Steps to create a budget

Skills

Continue to refine the description of your skills in civilian language.

Resources

Get a civilian email address and photos. Join LinkedIn or other professional websites. Sign up for notifications of open government positions.

Open government positions

Man smiling working servicing a vehicle

Start a company

Document your talents, skills and knowledge.

  • Check your lists with several people who know you well.
  • Check your skills against those needed to be successful in starting a business.

 

Determine if you need more education or training.

  • Determine which of the skills needed to successfully start a business will require additional education or training.
  • Find out about military educational benefits for which you may be eligible.
  • Register for and complete relevant classes available at your local college or vocational school.

 

Begin completing the ten steps to starting a business.

  • Search online for examples of each step and document your progress.
  • Research programs and services that help veterans start a business.
  • Determine if you want to own a franchise or own a new business and then focus your ten steps on the path you choose. 

Networking

Add people to your network who have started businesses in the area you are targeting. Utilize Local Assistance offered by the SBA.

Finance

Gather information on franchise fees and costs for renting space for a business in the area to which you’d like to relocate. Create a budget for your personal expenses.

Creating a budget

Skills

Review the skills which require additional education or training and make a plan for improving these skills. Determine if you are eligible for training under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Post 9/11 GI Bill

Resources

Get some photos in civilian clothing and a civilian email address. Be active on Linkedin or other professional websites. Build up your profile on these sites.

Recent graduate with degree smiling

Go back to school

Check out schools that offer appropriate education or training.

  • Make a list of schools you want to consider and gather more information.
  • Make a list of questions you need to ask about colleges or vocational schools.
  • Identify programs that will give you the training you need.
  • Narrow your list of potential school and gather facts.

 

Complete applications and financial aid paperwork for the schools you have selected.

  • Describe your talents, skills and knowledge, transferable credits and educational goals in civilian language.
  • Make sure that you receive credit for your military experience.

Networking

Identify mentors who can provide concrete advice on what you need to be doing at this stage concerning applications, tests and other items.

Finance

Create a rough budget based on your plans for the future. Gather additional information on costs and educational benefits for veterans in different areas.

Creating a budget

Skills

Schedule any tests or certifications you will need for acceptance into a program. Prepare to describe your education goals clearly and how you will use what you learn.

Resources

Get some photos in civilian clothing and a civilian email address. Be active on Linkedin or other professional websites. Build up your profile on these sites.

Service member with hands behind their back

6 months

Determine how you will replace certain benefits.

Select one of the following paths.

Get a civilian job
Get a federal job
Start a company
Go back to school

Colleagues in hard hats discussing building plans

Get a civilian job

Determine which benefits you’ll have to replace, including medical and life insurance, direct savings plan (TSP) and banking services.

 

Finalize your resume.

  • Check the clarity of your resume with people who have not been in the military.
  • Ensure your resume and list of skills are written in civilian language and use relevant language from job postings.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable describing yourself in civilian language.

 

Conduct practice interviews with people in your network.

  • Identify positions you’re interested in and start interviewing for those positions.
  • Identify positions at local companies for which you can interview.
  • Get tips on informational interviews.
  • Attend career or hiring fairs.

Networking

Identify mentors with whom you can have practice interviews and informal conversation.

Finance

Make a plan for transitioning your resources. Begin identifying what benefits you’ll have to replace. Refine your where to live and where to work lists.

Benefits

Skills

Identify civilian jobs that are commensurate with your position in the military.

Resources

Even if you will be covered by a transition medical plan, do some research on health insurance benefits. Search for jobs on sites like Bank of America, Monster and CareerBuilder.

Transitional medical coverage

Understanding health insurance

Bank of America job events

Woman smiling at work

Get a federal job

Determine which benefits you’ll have to replace, including medical and life insurance, direct savings plan (TSP) and banking services.

 

Finalize your resume.

  • Check the clarity of your resume with people who have not been in the military.
  • Ensure your resume and list of skills are written in civilian language and use relevant language from job postings.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable describing yourself in civilian language.

 

Conduct practice interviews with people in your network.

  • Identify positions you’re interested in and start interviewing for those positions.
  • Identify positions at local companies for which you can interview.
  • Get tips on informational interviews.

Networking

Identify mentors with whom you can have practice interviews and informal conversations.

Finance

Make a plan for transitioning your resources. Begin identifying what benefits you’ll have to place. Refine your where to live and where to work lists.

Benefits

Skills

Make sure that you are ready to being applying for government jobs.

Resources

Even if you will be covered by a transition medical plan, do some research on health insurance benefits.

Transitional medical coverage

Understanding health insurance

Man smiling working servicing a vehicle

Start a company

Determine which benefits you’ll have to replace, including medical and life insurance, direct savings plan (TSP) and banking services.

 

Continue with Ten Steps to Starting a Business.

  • Ensure that your business plan is in order.
  • Ensure that you are taking timely steps to complete legal and tax requirements.
  • Research marketing plan templates and start drafting your own.

Networking

Identify mentors in your network who can provide feedback on the documents you are creating for your business.

Finance

Make a plan for transitioning your resources to a new bank or credit union. Begin identifying what benefits you’ll have to replace. Refine your where to live list.

Benefits

Skills

Make sure that the documents you’re creating for your business use civilian language rather than military terminology.

Resources

Even if you will be covered by a transition medical plan, do some research on health insurance benefits.

Transitional medical coverage

Understanding health insurance

Recent graduate with degree smiling

Go back to school

Determine which benefits you’ll have to replace, including medical and life insurance, direct savings plan (TSP) and banking services.

 

Refine your list of potential schools.

  • Gather detailed information on potential schools concerning costs, reputation, culture and match to your career goals.

 

Ensure that you’re completing admissions tasks on time.

  • Schedule any tests or certifications you’ll need for acceptance into a program.
  • Ensure all paperwork for admission and financial aid have been received by the schools.
  • If you’re using the GI Bill, check on the status of your benefits.

Networking

Fill in your online bio on sites like LinkedIn. Make sure that the rest of your online footprint reflects you in a good light. People will check your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Finance

Begin identifying what benefits you’ll have to replace. Make a plan for transitioning your resources. Refine your list of schools to attend list.

Benefits

Skills

If you don’t ace the admissions test on the first attempt, schedule to take it again. The school will take your highest score.

Resources

Even if you will be covered by a transition medical plan, do some research on health insurance benefits. Stay in touch with your school’s admission office.

Transitional medical coverage

Understanding health insurance

Man and a woman sitting and smiling

3 months

Finalize details for your transition.

Select one of the following paths.

Get a civilian job
Get a federal job
Start a company
Go back to school

Colleagues in hard hats discussing building plans

Get a civilian job

Double check your resume.

  • Ensure your resume is free of errors.
  • Make sure it includes the important information but is not too long.
  • Ask individuals in your network to review your resume and make suggestions.
  • Adjust your resume to specific jobs you apply for.

 

Continue interviewing with companies in the area where you will live.

  • Be ready to complete job applications and write cover letters.
  • Make you’re ready for the interview and dress appropriately.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with your network, keeping them informed of your status. Ask one of your mentors to review the details of your transition plan.

Finance

Finalize your personal financial plan for your transition and the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Resources

Search the internet for information on fun and interesting things to do in the location to which you will be moving.

Woman smiling at work

Get a federal job

Double check your resume.

  • Ensure your resume is free of errors.
  • Make sure it includes the important information but is not too long.
  • Ask individuals in your network to review your resume and make suggestions.
  • Adjust your resume to specific jobs you apply for.

 

Continue interviewing for government positions in the area where you will live.

  • Be ready to complete job applications and write cover letters.
  • Make sure you’re ready for the interview and dress appropriately.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with your network, keeping them informed of your status. Ask one of your mentors to review the details of your transition plan.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Creating a budget

Skills

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Resources

Search the internet for information on fun and interesting things to do in the location to which you will be moving.

Man smiling working servicing a vehicle

Start a company

Finalize your Ten Steps to Starting a Business.

  • Ensure that you have the financial resources you need to start.
  • Ensure that you have taken care of all necessary legal and tax requirements.

 

Visit the area where your business will be established.

  • Meet other business owners in your area.
  • Make sure you can describe yourself and your business in civilian terms.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with the people in your network and add local leaders from the area in which your business will be located.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Make sure that you’re ready to manage – financially and emotionally – any employees that you hire.

Resources

Utilize every opportunity you find for free advertising – online, in the local newspaper and at community events.

Recent graduate with degree smiling

Go back to school

Be prepared to succeed at school.

  • See if there are any preparation courses you can take online.
  • Visit the campus.
  • If possible, buy required texts and become familiar with the topics that will be covered.

 

Be ready to meet other students and professors.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Review the information related to your area of study.

Resources

If you pre-register for classes, do some preparation such as previewing texts and checking past class blogs. Make sure you have a personal email address at the school.

Male and female colleagues smiling outside

1 month

Finalize details for your transition.

Select one of the following paths.

Get a civilian job
Get a federal job
Start a company
Go back to school

Colleagues in hard hats discussing building plans

Get a civilian job

Double check your resume.

  • Ensure your resume is free of errors.
  • Make sure it includes the important information but is not too long.
  • Ask individuals in your network to review your resume and make suggestions.
  • Adjust your resume to specific jobs you apply for.

 

Continue interviewing with companies in the area where you will live.

  • Be ready to complete job applications and write cover letters.
  • Make you’re ready for the interview and dress appropriately.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with your network, keeping them informed of your status. Ask one of your mentors to review the details of your transition plan.

Finance

Finalize your personal financial plan for your transition and the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Resources

Search the internet for information on fun and interesting things to do in the location to which you will be moving.

Woman smiling at work

Get a federal job

Double check your resume.

  • Ensure your resume is free of errors.
  • Make sure it includes the important information but is not too long.
  • Ask individuals in your network to review your resume and make suggestions.
  • Adjust your resume to specific jobs you apply for.

 

Continue interviewing for government positions in the area where you will live.

  • Be ready to complete job applications and write cover letters.
  • Make sure you’re ready for the interview and dress appropriately.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with your network, keeping them informed of your status. Ask one of your mentors to review the details of your transition plan.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Creating a budget

Skills

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Resources

Search the internet for information on fun and interesting things to do in the location to which you will be moving.

Man smiling working servicing a vehicle

Start a company

Finalize your Ten Steps to Starting a Business.

  • Ensure that you have the financial resources you need to start.
  • Ensure that you have taken care of all necessary legal and tax requirements.

 

Visit the area where your business will be established.

  • Meet other business owners in your area.
  • Make sure you can describe yourself and your business in civilian terms.
  • Practice your elevator speech.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Stay in touch with the people in your network and add local leaders from the area in which your business will be located.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Make sure that you’re ready to manage – financially and emotionally – any employees that you hire.

Resources

Utilize every opportunity you find for free advertising – online, in the local newspaper and at community events.

Recent graduate with degree smiling

Go back to school

Be prepared to succeed at school.

  • See if there are any preparation courses you can take online.
  • Visit the campus.
  • If possible, buy required texts and become familiar with the topics that will be covered.

 

Be ready to meet other students and professors.

 

Check out resources that will help a military spouse find a job, go to school or get a certification for a new career.

Networking

Continue to monitor what other people can find out about you online and carefully control your social media footprint.

Finance

Finalize your personal finance plan for your transition and for the six months following. Begin transitioning your resources.

Skills

Review the information related to your area of study.

Resources

If you pre-register for classes, do some preparation such as previewing texts and checking past class blogs. Make sure you have a personal email address at the school.