Transitioning From the Military to a Civilian

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A civilian is a person who is not part of the military. They can be people living in their communities or a lawyer who practices civil law or scholars who study Roman law.

Depending on the culture and area, there are many differences between military life and civilian life. These differences can make the transition more difficult. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you navigate the differences.

Community and communication

Your military community has become your family, and leaving that is difficult at first. Finding a new community where your friends and family can connect with you is essential in the beginning stages of civilian life. Try to connect with veterans in your area to find the support and friendship you need.

Employment and career

The military offers a wide variety of job opportunities across the nation, and even overseas. These jobs can vary in responsibilities and duties, but most military members have similar skill sets that will transfer to civilian positions.

For example, firefighters, plumbers, electricians, and a number of other careers are highly-trained in the military, making them a great choice for a civilian career. In addition to skills, military members also bring experience in leadership, and team management.


The United States government has a variety of scholarships, grants, and educational programs to help service members and their spouses pursue their education. In addition, there are often employers that offer tuition assistance or other benefits for employees who wish to pursue their education goals.

Laws and court systems

Typically, federal courts are located in Washington, DC, but civilian courts can also be found throughout the country. These courts have different rules and processes than military courts, which are located on bases.

A common difference between the two is that in civilian court, all jurors must vote unanimously for a conviction. In military court, a three-fourths majority is needed for conviction.

Healthcare and retirement

The military provides pensions to its members depending on their duration of service, and these pensions can be valuable during your retirement years. Similarly, the military provides members with healthcare insurance.

Housing and living

In the military, a member has access to military-issued housing that is usually on or near the base. This can be beneficial, especially for families with young children or elderly parents.

Alternatively, a soldier can look for off-base housing that is not provided by the military. This may require some searching, but it is a good option for many service members.

When choosing a civilian job, it is important to consider the salary that will be offered. In most cases, you won’t be able to take home as much money as you did in the military, which can make your transition more challenging.

It’s important to consider the salary that you’ll receive once your taxes and benefits are deducted. This will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to save and spend on your civilian lifestyle.