The term civilian has many meanings and can refer to anyone who isn’t a member of the military. Generally speaking, civilians are not subject to military laws but do need to follow all other laws and codes of conduct.
The military focuses on discipline and routine, while civilians can be more relaxed in their daily lives. This can make it difficult for a civilian to transition into the military and become comfortable in their new environment.
In the military you are required to be on time and present yourself in a professional manner. This can be tough for a civilian to get used to but is essential to keeping your job and earning the military pay you deserve.
You are also expected to be on top of your health care expenses, even if you have insurance through your employer. This can be a huge financial burden, especially if you’re single and have to pay co-pays or monthly premiums.
If you’re going to move out of the military and into civilian life, it’s important to realize that your take-home pay will be much lower than what you were getting in the service. This may seem like a negative thing to focus on, but it’s actually an opportunity for you to build a better financial future.
Your civilian paycheck won’t be as large as your base pay in the military because of taxes and other deductions. You’ll probably have to pay federal, state and local income tax as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes on your total salary.
You may be eligible for a number of benefits, but those can all be deducted before you even see your check. This can mean that your net pay will be much lower than the salary you were quoted in a job interview.
This difference can be especially stressful if you’re moving to a new city or aren’t sure how you will fit into a civilian lifestyle. If you’re not sure how to make the transition or need help getting started, reach out to veteran resources that can assist with career and financial assistance, housing options, navigating the legal system, and more.
In a world of terrorism and violent conflict, civilians are a significant target for harm. In order to protect them, international humanitarian law aims to distinguish between civilians and combatants (API Art. 48) and between civilian objects and military objectives (API Art. 13).
ICRC guidelines have attempted to clarify the rules of this distinction through a process of research and expert reflection. The guidelines, published in 2003, set out to answer three main questions: who is considered a civilian for the purpose of conducting hostilities and therefore must be protected against direct attack “unless and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities”; what conduct amounts to direct participation; and what modalities govern the loss of civilian protection against direct attack.
Although the ICRC guidelines have helped to resolve the issue, there are still a lot of gray areas that need to be examined on a case-by-case basis. This is why a civilian’s rights must be carefully evaluated to ensure they are being treated fairly and equitably.