Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive April 2017 Show 1717 Soldiers: After the Boots

Soldiers: After the Boots

Soldiers adapt to and overcome many obstacles, but none is more daunting than the civilian world awaiting them at the end of their tours of duty.
Soldiers: After the Boots

Soldiers: After the Boots

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Show 1717: Soldiers: After the Boots
Air Date: April 23, 2017



Austin Moore: So soldiers are taught to adapt and overcome any obstacle. But there may be none more daunting than the civilian world waiting for them once they step back from the line. Still, every career must end, whether from retirement, medical issues or simply a desire to try something new. But just because you see it coming doesn’t make it any easier.

I started this battalion as a private back when it was in Germany, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Regiment, 27 some years ago. And then now I’m back as the battalion sergeant major, which kind of for me looks like a full circle. And it might be God’s way of opening the door for me to walk out.

You put in your time, you did the hard tours, and you want to go home and enjoy your family. The stresses in the military is different from when you go home to that spouse or those loved ones and those kids. And, oh, by the way, she puts pressures or the children put pressures on you that the Army can never match up. Most people don’t understand that family sacrifice. The spouse feels it, but no one else can see it, but your kids have to live through it. So when you’re gone for the birthdays and you’re gone for all the different events and things like that, you come back, and you realize you missed out on so much, you want to redeem that time back. So you can deal with the military aspect, but you go home, and that stress is there, and it’s real. And if you don’t connect with someone else that can help you to relate to what you are dealing with and kind of guide you through it, it can be overwhelming.

They treat volunteer work as actual work.

I am a spouse. I’m a military spouse of an active duty soldier. You go from a life where you are guaranteed a roof over your head, you’re guaranteed a paycheck. And basically, right now, we are guaranteed food to eat. But once you get out, you are guaranteed none of that. Uncle Sam is not there to feed you or clothe you or house you.

I came into the military when I was 19, so in essence I matured in the Army. And when you are serving in the military, you always hear there is going to be a difference when you become a civilian. It is not going to be the same. And will your military experience be able to cross over, will it be enough to secure a job on the civilian sector? I mean, the last time I worked in the civilian sector I was a teenager. I was working in, you know, mom and pop fast food from home.

I know what I have done, but to turn that into a civilian-understood piece of paper that you are going to hire me on? It’s really intimidating.

It is not as simple as taking a job description from the military’s website and putting it down on my resume. You need to really think about what it is that I truly do and how that translates into the civilian workforce. It is partly translating that military into civilian jargon. It is also capturing all the small things that we do in the military that we don’t think that we do. We just say, oh, it is part of my job. Yeah, it is part of your job, put it on paper.

You have to cater each resume to a job. So job A, resume A; job B, resume B; job C, resume C. And it takes a lot of time to do each resume, and a lot of people don’t realize that, and they just hand out this generic resume.

I was a platoon sergeant, and I had a soldier lose his dorm room key. I just handed him a cinder block and tied the key to it and was like, now will you forget your key? I can’t do that here in this environment. So I have to find other ways to encourage them. I first enlisted in 2005 in the 145th Army National Guard Band. I have been in the Reserves, it will be a year in March. I’ve had employers in the past who just get really frustrated with that commitment that I have made. And so they don’t see the physical strain, they don’t see the mental strain and the emotional strain. I have already been away from my family. I am just coming back; I have to go back to work. I have to turn off Army and turn on civilian. That is hard to do. That is hard to do; it is sometimes very difficult to make that switch. And you are like, OK, I am dealing with real people now, so now I need to calm down and not tell them what I think with my command hand. When you have those challenges with employers who aren’t willing to work with you, it really burdens the soldier. I know it burdened me, because I felt like I wasn’t doing my best in my military profession because I was so worried about losing my civilian profession.

Get network into resources, get network into programs that will help in that transition. Because for many of us, you don’t have the programs and/or those network abilities to get out there and do that before you get out.

But you can’t just go out there and say I want a job, any job. You have to be passionate about what you are doing. And if you can make some money doing something that you like doing, why not?

It is about what is your goal for your family. And how can we help you, and I say we meaning the resources, the abundance of experiences. I’m here on this side of the uniform to help you achieve what your goals are.

Don’t be afraid to hit apply now and put yourself out there.

Austin Moore: When we return, we will take a look at a program designed to smooth that transition and the partners that are making it work.