What Service Members Need to Know About Employment

Man repairs an airplane

Maybe you’re closing the chapter on your military life and opening a new one, or you’re in the process of making long-term plans. This means transitioning from being a service member to a civilian employee in a company, nonprofit or maybe the government. As a service member, you have many resources available to help you with this significant change. Here’s an overview of what you need to know as you seek employment.

Explore your career path

There’s a difference between a job and a career. Both pay the bills, but a career is more likely to give you a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is the key to job satisfaction. Invest some time in a little soul-searching before you begin your search to make sure you’re going down the right path.

Whether you plan to continue in your current field after leaving military service or you wish to pursue a new opportunity, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are my career goals?
  2. What steps do I need to take to position myself for success?

To help you answer those questions, a self-assessment can help you set goals and plan your way forward. Here are a few options:

  • CareerScope® is a career planning and assessment tool through the Department of Veterans Affairs that recommends career choices based on your interests and abilities.
  • My Next Move for Veterans is an assessment tool to enable you to explore careers, including those related to your military occupational specialty.
  • Career OneStop also offers a self-assessment that includes an interest assessment and skills profiler. The service, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, also offers tools to help search for jobs, identify training and learn about careers.

Credential and leverage your military experience

Your military experience has given you training that converts to skills in the civilian world. The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for. Here are links to individual service branch programs:

The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program provides active-duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are serving.

DOD SkillBridge connects transitioning service members to career job training opportunities. Participate in training and development with industry and employers who are seeking the high-quality skills that you bring to the table.

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.

Build your resume

The goal of a resume is to effectively summarize and highlight your qualifications in a way that will make the employer want to reach out and schedule an interview with you. These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. The VMET document helps you prepare resumes and job applications quickly when you separate from service.
  • Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and VA.gov.

Find the right civilian job

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Network. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.
  • Hit job fairs. Look for upcoming events to meet potential employers including:
  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of American, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations. Also, see the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a list of organizations committed to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Other employment benefits and assistance programs

Review some of the top services and programs offered by the military and the government, focused on jobs for veterans and helping you find your new career. Also, check out these employment benefits and assistance programs available before and after you leave the military:

  • Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition: This one-day workshop provides an introduction to the essential tools and resources needed to evaluate career options, gain information for civilian employment, and understand the fundamentals of the employment process.
  • Department of Labor Employment Workshop: This two-day workshop covers emerging best practices in career employment, including in-depth training to learn interview skills, build effective resumes, and use emerging technology to network and search for employment.
  • Vocational Training Track: Participants complete a career development assessment and are guided through a variety of career considerations, including labor market projections, education, apprenticeships, certifications and licensure requirements.
  • Soldier for Life engages and connects Army, government and non-governmental organizations to support soldiers, veterans and families.
  • Marine for Life connects transitioning Marines and their family members to education resources, employment opportunities, and other veterans services that aid in their career and life goals outside of military service.
  • National Guard Employment Support Program supports National Guard Service members in finding meaningful careers and job opportunities as they face the challenges of military life, whether mobilized or in a steady-state posture.
  • American Corporate Partners: Free mentoring program connects Post-9/11 veterans with corporate professionals for customized mentorships.

Match your military skills to civilian jobs, find transition resources, and start your military-to-civilian job search with the resources and information provided above. Check out all the resources for employment on Military OneSource.

Healthy Living – Resources

As a military member, you have several resources available to support your health – from nutrition courses and fitness initiatives to military family programs and wellness centers. Discover and explore different tools that can help make healthy living easier for you and your family. While Military OneSource does not provide direct health care services, it does offer non-medical counseling and information about health care services and resources.

Healthy Base Initiative

Since 2013, the Healthy Base Initiative — part of the overarching Operation Live Well program — has brought healthy living initiatives to service members and their families at 14 pilot installations. As a result, the initiative has several helpful tools and resources to help you live a healthy life, including:

  • Human Performance Resource Center: The center’s human performance optimization website is for U.S. warfighters, their families and those who support them. The goal is total force fitness: warfighters optimized to carry out their mission as safely and effectively as possible.
  • The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition: The president’s council engages, educates, and empowers all Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles, including regular physical activity and good nutrition.

Nutrition resources

Good health begins with proper nutrition. The following tools and programs can help you eat right, whether you are at home or at a dining facility.

  • Better-for-You: This initiative provides a quick look at the calories of menu items for customers in a for-profit food environment.
  • Farmer’s Market: Markets give service and family members the much healthier option of acquiring locally grown produce.
  • Go for Green®: Service members have quick access to the nutritional value of menu offerings and food products in the installation dining facility.
  • Menu Renovation: This program enhances the nutritional profile of food offerings at military dining facilities and snack bar outlets.
  • Commissary Initiative: The initiative promotes the purchase and intake of fruits and vegetables by service and family members.
  • Mission Nutrition: This standardized, science-based, two-day, 16-hour course focuses on improving nutritional knowledge and awareness.

Fitness resources

Among the fitness resources available to service members and their families are these:

  • 24-Hour Fitness: This program offers an opportunity to work out for people who are unable to use standard facilities. Satellite fitness centers are located on installation with limited equipment and are open 24/7 with common access card accessibility.
  • Fitness On Request: This initiative offers a wide array of fitness class options and the ability to exercise in a group setting at any time.
  • Bike Share: This program provides specially-marked bicycles in convenient locations around the installation for service members and personnel to use for transportation or recreation.
  • StairWELL to Health: This program offers information and opportunities for incorporating physical activity into daily routines.
  • High-Intensity Tactical Training and Aquatic Maximum Power Intensive Training: Such training improves combat readiness while reducing the likelihood of injury through physical fitness training and nutritional guidelines.
  • Adult Sports Program: This intramural sports program provides fun, team-oriented recreational fitness opportunities to keep service members in shape.

Family health resources

Service members can take advantage of a variety of resources that support a healthy family life, tools that help teach youth good nutrition and the importance of exercise. Some of them include:

  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation: This program empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits.
  • Share our Strength: This initiative offers instruction that encourages families to purchase and prepare healthier food on a budget through cooking classes and grocery store tours.
  • Operation Kid Fit: This initiative is a military-adapted, evidence-based child obesity program.
  • 5210 Healthy Military Children campaign: This campaign encourages kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce sugary beverages while getting more physical activity and reducing screen time.
  • Baby Hot Wheels: This free circuit-training program provides an opportunity for new parents who can get in shape while meeting others.

Wellness resources

  • Community Resource Guide: This initiative links the social services and health and wellness services available both on the installation and within the community in a web-based format.
  • Army Wellness Centers: These centers provide prevention programs and services that promote healthy lifestyles for the well-being of service and family members.
  • Evaluating the Impact of a Dietitian: Registered dietitians stationed on the installation provide a range of services to support the nutrition and overall health of service members and their families.
  • 5210 Healthy Military Children Campaign: This campaign encourages kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce sugary beverages while getting more physical activity and reducing screen time.

Online health and wellness initiatives

Health services are available to military members in a variety of forms. Get motivated by connecting with other people who have similar goals and seek out new methods for helping yourself stay on the path toward a healthy lifestyle with these online initiatives.

  • The Human Performance Resource Center is a Department of Defense initiative that helps members of the military, their families and caretakers to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. The online center offers advice on nutrition, dietary supplements, physical conditioning and mental fitness.
  • TRICARE provides resources to help you pursue a healthy lifestyle, such as Making Healthy Changes for Life.
  • Operation Live Well is a Department of Defense initiative to improve the health and wellness of the entire defense community. It provides service members with a set of resources that they can use to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers the Start Simple with MyPlate app, a simple and easy-to-use mobile app that allows you to set daily food goals, track your progress in real time, earn badges and celebrate your success as you learn to develop healthy eating habits.

MWR Digital Library health resources

Another great place to turn to support your health is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library, which offers a variety of materials for those seeking information on wellness. Through the library, users can:

  • Access medical journals, magazines, reference works and multimedia covering a range of health-related issues.
  • Find journals and other materials with information on everything from brain health to psychology to alternative medicine.
  • Improve their brain health with clinically proven personalized brain training exercises.

For Service Members – Resources

You’ll find there are numerous programs, resources and services available to help you pursue education and find employment – both governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Here are some of the major resources.

Education resources and tools for service members

Voluntary Education Program: The Department of Defense off-duty Voluntary Education Program is one of the largest continuing education programs in the world, with 350 installation education centers worldwide.

Postsecondary Education Complaint System: If you or your family member receive tuition assistance or are a My Career Advancement Account Scholarship recipient, you are encouraged to submit your feedback through this system.

College Navigator: This tool from the National Center for Education Statistics can help you choose the right school with information about more than 7,000 institutions. Compare tuition, financial aid statistics, credit transfer and more.

TA DECIDE: Make informed decisions about your education. Compare schools, tuition and fees, programs, assistance available and more with the TA DECIDE tool from the Department of Defense.

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES: Use this online resource to pursue your educational goals and earn degrees or certifications. DANTES helps you plan examinations, find educational institutions and connects you with education counselors.

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium: This network of more than 1,900 universities and colleges provides opportunities for service members, veterans and family members. Explore member institutions, campus programs, scholarships and more.

Department of Veterans Affairs education resources: The VA website connects you to information about education, the GI Bill® and job training programs for service members and veterans. Learn more at explore.va.gov.

Student Aid on the Web: This U.S. government website provides information and resources for college students and their families to help them choose the right college, apply for financial aid and repay student loans.

The Department of Education website provides information for students, parents, teachers and administrators, including links related to student aid, grants and scholarships.

GI Bill® Comparison Tool helps you compare VA-approved institutions and review other information to choose the right school. It’s also helpful for applying GI Bill benefits to an on-the-job training program.

Career Path DECIDE: Service members and veterans can use this online tool to find best-fit careers based on their military occupation, education level and prior experience, as well as the required credentials or degrees.

Military OneSource provides education consultants who can assist you with questions about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and college information. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? View calling options. Find:

  • Contact information for military-friendly schools and institutions that allow you to transfer previous college credits
  • Getting your credentials converted and diplomas translated to meet state- or country-specific requirements
  • Profiles on specific colleges and their credentials

Employment resources and tools for service members

Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program: The place to start for employment planning and career readiness. The website connects you to your service branch, as well as resources and tools.

Find your nearest Transition Assistance Program. Transition Assistance offices are on most military installations in the United States and overseas. Each service branch has its own program:

The Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA offers numerous employment resources to help veterans find civilian jobs. Resources include career exploration and counseling, support, connections to job fairs, job searches, vocational and employment counseling and job-seeking tools.

Find a Job: The VA and the Department of Labor have teamed up to offer numerous online resources for veterans and military spouses seeking employment. Get tools, one-on-one assistance, training and more.

Veterans.gov: Explore job opportunities in industries, including agriculture, energy, homeland security and others. Look for jobs by state and region.

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: The VETS website from the Department of Labor has comprehensive career and employment assistance for veterans and their families.

Apprenticeship USA from the Department of Labor helps service members and veterans find high-skill, well-paying jobs in Registered Apprenticeship.

Feds Hire Vets: The federal government-wide employment website provides federal employment information for veterans, transitioning service members, their families and federal hiring officials.

CareerOneStop: This Department of Labor website can connect you with programs, including Veterans ReEmployment or My Next Move for Veterans. Also, explore careers, find benefits information and locate your nearest American Job Center.

USAJOBS: The federal government’s employment-related website provides helpful links for veterans seeking federal jobs. As the largest federal employer of veterans, the Department of Defense also offers help with connecting veterans with a Department of Defense civil service job.

Troops to Teachers: This program, a partnership between the departments of Defense and Education, assists transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers.

The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members throughout the federal government in accessing information and communication technology, which can help you with your job search.

Military OneSource: Explore our Employment section for valuable tips about job hunting, career exploration and programs. To learn more about specific benefits, visit our Education and Employment Benefits page.

Additional resources for service members

Searching for a job can be stressful, explore these additional resources to help support you mentally during the process.

InTransition provides free, confidential coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who may need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as preparing to leave military service.

Moving Forward is a free, online educational and life-coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you better handle life’s challenges. It is designed to be especially helpful for veterans, service members and their families.

Voting Becomes Easier for the Mobile Military Life

Vote button over the American Flag.

As a guardian of our nation, you protect the American way of life. The Federal Voting Assistance Program is here to ensure you and your family are able to exercise your right to vote.

About three-quarters of the 1.3 million active-duty service members are eligible to vote absentee because they’re stationed outside of their voting jurisdictions. Thanks to 2009 amendments to the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (1986), it’s easier for relocated and overseas service members and spouses to register and submit absentee ballots.

Military Absentee Voting Made Simple

No matter where you are, the Federal Post Card Application lets you make sure your vote is counted in a few simple steps.

Today, states are required to send ballots to service members and eligible family members at least 45 days before federal elections and to provide electronic options for voters to receive those ballots. The change boosted the rate of successfully counted absentee ballots sent from service members, from 30% in 2006 to 53% in 2018.

FVAP helps you vote. Wherever you are.

FVAP provides assistance for service members and eligible family members to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and check the status of a ballot for federal offices no matter where they’re located.

Now it’s easier than ever to:

  • Register to vote – whether it’s your first time, you have relocated, or you have separated from the military
  • Request your absentee ballot
  • Vote and submit your absentee ballot

Most states require you to register to vote or request an absentee ballot to start the process. The expanded use of electronic options for sending and receiving federal election materials has made it much easier to vote by absentee ballot. That’s important as two-thirds of military voters are absentee voters.

It’s best to start the absentee voting process early. Here are easy ways to demonstrate your readiness and ensure your vote is cast and counted:

Many states allow you to submit your FPCA electronically, and all states allow for at least one form of electronic transmission to send you a blank ballot. Many states accept the ballot by email or fax, while some states only accept the ballot by mail. Mail delivery times vary based on where you live. If your state requires you to mail your ballot, then you can make sure your vote is counted by mailing your ballot early to allow for extra time.

Since voting materials that are mailed can’t be forwarded, it’s important for you to provide your election office with your new address after every move. Consider sending in a new FPCA every year. Also, federal elections can come up suddenly even during nonelection years. Submitting the FPCA each year helps ensure that you will receive a ballot for all federal elections for which you are eligible.

Voting when transitioning out of the military

If you are transitioning to civilian life, you should notify your election office of your change in voter registration status and update your information, so that you can vote locally in the next election. Depending on whether you are staying in the same voting district after military separation, or if you are moving to a new state or county, there are just one or two easy steps to take, available here: https://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/transition.

More information

When you want to vote – whether you’re entering the military, casting a ballot for the first time, relocating, or transitioning or retiring from the military – and have questions about casting your ballot – your Installation Voter Assistance Office or FVAP have the answers. Go to FVAP.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).

Federal Voting Assistance Program resources

Coronavirus disease 2019: Voters can find helpful resources on FVAP.gov, including COVID-19 information and two visual maps that depict how states accept the FPCA or ballot.

Envelopes: Voters can also download postage-paid envelope templates that will allow them to mail back their voting materials free of charge from any military post at a military installation or via diplomatic pouch at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

Languages: Voters who prefer to read absentee voting information in Arabic, French or Spanish can find translations of instructions for filling out the FPCA and FWAB.

Installation Voting Assistance Office: Active-duty military and military spouses can find and get help from their IVAO.

Subscribe: Voters can also subscribe to receive voting emails.

Calendars: Voters also have access to voting alerts and calendar reminders for their state.

Social media: Voters can also follow FVAP on social media to tune in to Facebook Live events, absentee voting best practices and more.

Increase Your Skills and Education From Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Current as of Sept 29, 2020


Make the most of the unexpected time you have at home because of coronavirus disease 2019. Explore the wide range of education resources the Department of Defense offers for service members and their families. They include:

If you need help navigating opportunities that are available to you, Military OneSource education consultants can help. They can answer questions about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and college information. Call 800-342-9647. You can also use OCONUS dialing options or schedule a live chat.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Meet the Team Behind Military OneSource’s Call Center

Military OneSource call center professional

As the one source to connect you to your best MilLife, Military OneSource provides both a robust website full of information and a call center with a team of friendly professionals standing ready to assist you with any need you have. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by telephone and online to help you with everyday life and your biggest milestones. Watch our brief video to meet this dynamic and qualified team of experts and learn about the range of services offered through Military OneSource.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

Non-medical counseling is available to help you thrive

Confidential, non-medical counseling is a popular and proven service among service members and their families. Our counselors know military life, so they understand your challenges and how to help. We provide marriage and relationship counseling, parent and child counseling, sessions to ease deployment adjustment and other kinds of support to help you thrive at work and home. Support is just a call or click away. We provide counseling sessions face-to-face, by phone, online chat or secure live video.

Other popular services

At Military OneSource, we provide specialty consultations and other services to help service members and their families, including:

  • Tax and financial counselors who can help you prepare your taxes or assist with budgets, debt counseling or buying a new home.
  • Health and wellness coaches who support you with your healthy living goals and stress reduction.
  • Our peer support service, which provides opportunities for active-duty, National Guard and reserve members and military spouses to speak with someone who has been there, done that.
  • Relocation assistance to help you master your next PCS.
  • Assistance on elder care, adoption, special needs, education and career goals, relocation and more.

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.

Who’s Eligible?

All active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members regardless of activation status, recently separated service members, military families and survivors have access to Military OneSource resources anywhere in the world at no cost. Services are available by phone and online. Learn more about eligibility.

Look inside

Learn more about the range of services offered by Military OneSource. Our team of professionals is here to meet your needs. For more information, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. Click here for OCONUS calling options.

Military OneSource Live Chat

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Technology is on your side when it comes to getting the information you need. Instead of spending hours online researching articles, check out the live chat feature on the Military OneSource website. You type in your question and receive a quick response with the information you need. Live chat makes the existing Military OneSource services even easier to access.

Easy access

Service and family members can begin live chats on Military OneSource from their computers or on the go from their smart phones or tablet devices. Military OneSource live chat conveniently provides military families with information when and how they want it. Quick and personalized information is available 24/7/365 from a trained Military OneSource consultant.

If your office or house is too noisy for calls, or you don’t feel like speaking with anyone after a full day, live chat is a convenient way for you to discover all that Military OneSource offers.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

How does online live chat work?

  • Scroll to the top of any Military OneSource page
  • Find the comment bubble icon on top right, and click on it
  • Click Continue
  • Type in your question — it’s as simple as that

Our live chat works just like you’d expect it to. Both you and your Military OneSource consultant can see when the other one is typing, so you will know when the consultant is sending info your way.

Depending on the nature of your question and what services you request or require, the consultant will help in one of the following ways:

  • Provide you with the information you requested
  • Invite you to call the Military OneSource toll-free number at 800-342-9647 for additional services such as specialty consultations
  • Refer you to other appropriate services with a warm hand-off to the other provider

Live chat topics

Live chat provides you with personalized information and resources beyond what you find on the Military OneSource website. A Military OneSource consultant can suggest the best resources for you on topics including:

  • Parenting, adoption and family
  • Single life, marriage or relationships
  • Child care programs and respite care
  • Children or adults with special needs
  • Caregivers and wounded warriors
  • Language interpretation and document translation
  • Deployment, relocation and transitions
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation
  • Commissaries and exchanges
  • Disaster preparedness

Live chat also gets you quick answers to questions regarding confidential help including the following:

  • Specialty consultations (adoption, education, elder care, health and wellness coaching, peer-to-peer, special needs and wounded warrior)
  • Non-medical counseling (improving relationships at home and work, stress management, adjustment difficulties, parenting, marriage problems, or grief and loss)
  • Interactive tools and services (document translation, financial counseling, free tax service, language interpretation, and Spouse Education and Career Opportunities counseling)

Grab your smart phone or tablet device and let a Military OneSource consultant assist you. Live chat us today.