Helping Your Children Change Schools

Young student wearing mask in class

Frequent moves to new duty stations is a fact of military life, and your child will be asked to respond to the routines and demands of military life as well. Being prepared to help your school-age children change schools can go a long way to helping them adjust to their new environment in healthy ways. Parent preparation can mean a smooth school move for your children from one school system to the next.

When making moves within the continental United States, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children addresses educational transition issues of military families. Adopted by all states and the District of Columbia, the Interstate Compact replaces varying individual state education policies that affect transitioning military dependent children and supports uniform treatment for these students as they transfer between school districts and states. The Interstate Compact covers all schools, including Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, schools.

Your school liaison can assist with your child’s school transition.

School liaisons are your primary point of contact for all school-related matters, especially a school transition. The school liaison at your current installation can connect you to your new installation school liaison who will help smooth the transition to your child’s new school. Let your school liaison help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship during this time of change.

The Interstate Compact addresses educational transition issues of military families such as eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation, making it easier for military children to enroll in needed classes, play sports and graduate on time. Here are some of the ways states are helping you make a smooth move for your children.

Immediate enrollment

When leaving your school district, you can get unofficial records to carry to your new school. Your student will be able to enroll without delay, even before the official transcript arrives. If your child needs additional immunizations, you can enroll and take care of these requirements within 30 days.

Placement and attendance support

Your children will be placed in appropriate required classes, advanced placement and special-needs programs while awaiting evaluation at their new school. That means your child won’t be put in a “holding class” while your new school is taking the time to assess him or her. The Interstate Compact also enables a student to miss school for military-related reasons or to request excused absences before, during or after a deployment.

Special education services

If your student is covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal law protects your child’s right to receive the same services identified in his or her existing individual education program, or IEP. The receiving school may perform subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement.

Extracurricular participation

If your child is eligible, the new school will facilitate participation in extracurricular activities even if application deadlines or tryouts have passed.


Rest assured that your high schooler’s graduation will not be affected. Here are some examples of how the Interstate Compact assists with checking off graduation requirements:

  • Course waivers: If your child has already completed similar coursework, the new school shall waive courses required for graduation.
  • Exit exams: The new school district shall accept your child’s exit exams and achievement tests required to graduate from his or her previous school.
  • Senior-year transfers: If your student changes school during his or her senior year, the two school districts will work together to get a diploma from the former school to ensure on-time graduation.

School liaisons

School liaisons are located at every installation and are especially helpful in dealing with your school transition issues. This local resource has well-established relationships with school administrators, district officials and state departments of education and can help with your transition needs. School liaisons are available for all Department of Defense identification card holders, educators who service military students and community partners within the pre-K-12 education realm. School liaisons understand the military experience and are here to help with your child’s move to a new school. Contact the school liaison at your current or acquiring installation for help with:

  • Transition support, including school districts and boundaries
  • Alternative school options and programs, including private, parochial, charter and home school
  • School and community information nearby
  • Special education
  • Deployment support
  • Compliance with the Interstate Compact
  • Youth programs inside and outside of school
  • Scholarship and grant resources
  • College, career and military readiness

You can also call Military OneSource to connect to an education consultant for help with everything from tutors to tuition. Don’t wait until the move occurs. Call 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat today. OCONUS/international? View calling options.


Employment Resources and Services

Hiring representatives from more than 100 companies attended the “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair to assist transitioning veterans in their job hunt.

As you prep for civilian employment, you’ll discover a world of organizations committed to hiring veterans. These are 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.

Active duty? Start with your pre-separation training

As you count down to your transition to civilian life, you’ll need to sign up for pre-separation training at least 90 days before transitioning out. Your branch’s Transition Assistance Program will get you going on your military-to-civilian job hunt.

Receive personalized support for your transition.

Military OneSource assists in easing transition stress with our specialty consultation for transitioning veterans.

Employment resources for active duty and veterans

Here are some top resources for setting yourself up for employment success. While these programs may reference veterans, they’re useful for every military person seeking a civilian job.

Employment resources from the U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor has employment sites rich with tools, job search capabilities and information on special programs for service members and veterans.

CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, has a special area just for veterans called the Veteran and Military Transition Center. is a virtual, one-stop online employment services website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. is committed to helping America’s veterans and separating service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights. Sections include:

The Veterans Employment and Training Service site is a rich resource, also from the Department of Labor. At this site, you can connect to:

  • Find a Job – assistance at over 2,500 American Job Centers nationwide
  • Registered apprenticeship occupations and careers
  • Critical resources and training for women who serve
  • Programs and services for veterans, transitioning military and families.
  • Transition GPS employment workshop
  • Plus, links to additional veterans opportunities:
  • Veterans Preference Advisor
  • SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development
  • Center for Veterans Enterprise
  • VETS Resource Connection
  • VETBiz: The Veteran Business portal for the federal government
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management Veterans’ Information

Veterans services and resources for employment connects veterans and their families with meaningful employment and career-development opportunities. Wherever you are in the transition process, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers many employment programs, services and resources for veterans:

  • Receive educational and career counseling.
  • One-on-one assistance is available to eligible veterans.
  • Explore federal career opportunities open to eligible veterans.
  • Visit the Veteran Readiness and Employment page for service members with a service-connected disability – to get help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development and skills coaching.
  • Other services may be provided to assist veterans in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment.

Start your own business with and the Small Business Administration.

  • The robust SBA website has tools, information and how-to’s for starting and growing your own small business – from creating a business plan to exploring to government contracting.
  • VA can guide you through the process of registering as a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business.

Hiring Our Heroes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. Services at the site include:

Federal jobs for veterans

Feds Hire Vets is a government-wide veterans’ employment site from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. It’s designed to be a one-stop site for finding employment within the federal government. By working for a federal agency, you can continue to serve your country. What’s more, your military service counts toward a civilian pension.

Feds Hire Vets provides information for veterans, transitioning service members and family members. You can connect with:

  • One-on-one assistance in applying for federal jobs at local American Job Centers.
  • Tips on applying for federal positions.
  • The Veterans’ Preference program – which awards points during the application process, giving veterans an advantage in job placement. See this site for preference ratings.
  • A link to USAJobs search, which has federal employment opportunities around the world.

This is just the beginning of all the resources and services available. Think of job hunting as your mission. The good news? You have a deep bench of teammates who want you to succeed.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Basics

For sale sign

The first step toward owning your own home is meeting with a lender to secure a loan. The Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Program is a substantial benefit earned with military service. These invaluable loans require no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and have low interest rates.

You get much better financing terms than a traditional home loan. Even if you haven’t been approved for a traditional loan, you might still qualify for a VA loan.

For more information, call a VA home loan representative at 877-827-3702, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Features of Department of Veterans Affairs Guaranteed Home Loans

Every loan can end up being a little different, but here are the standard features:

  • No down payment: Perhaps you can save or invest what you would have put aside as your down payment
  • Low interest rates: VA home loans offer one of the most competitive interest rates in the market.
  • No mortgage insurance premium: Veterans are required to pay the VA’s funding fee, unless exempt, but no mortgage insurance.
  • Reusable Benefit: You are able to use this benefit more than one time if you have remaining entitlement.
  • One-time funding fee: Some veterans and service members are exempt from paying the funding fee. If you are not exempt, you may pay this fee at closing or include it in your loan.
  • Minimum property requirements: VA loans have minimum property requirements to ensure your home is safe, sound and sanitary.
  • No penalty for prepayment: Rule of thumb — always try to pay off loans early. Not having to pay interest leaves you with additional money to invest in other things. Some loans will penalize you for doing that, but these won’t.
  • Assumable mortgage: When you sell the property, you may elect to have a VA-eligible buyer assume your mortgage. If you do, the assumer’s qualifications must be reviewed and approved by the lender or VA.
  • VA staff assistance: If you are experiencing some temporary financial difficulty, VA has loan technicians that can discuss your specific situation.

There are some exemptions to the VA funding fee. For more information, visit the VA Funding fee and loan closing costs webpage.

The VA Home Loan Program has helped thousands of active-duty service members and veterans become homeowners. Now that you’re armed with the basics of VA home loans, you can start looking into how to use one to get your dream home.

Deciding Where to Live When You Leave the Military

Woman riding mountain bike

The day will come when you’re preparing to transition out of the military. You might have spent time thinking about where you want to live when this day arrives. As you decide where to live after your military separation, it’s helpful to consider:

A full year of support

As you transition into civilian life, service members and their family members have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options. Prefer to live chat? Start now.

  • Your family’s wishes
  • Career opportunities
  • Education
  • Cost of living

Talk with your family

The decision about your next home will affect the entire family, so include them in every step of the process. Here are some things you might want to think about:

  • Career and educational opportunities – Do you want to start a new career? Does your spouse want to continue their career or start a new one? What about the kids? Where are the best schools? Base your decisions on what will be good for the whole family.
  • Extended family – How close do you want to be to your extended family – “See you tomorrow” close, or “See you on holidays” close? Take a careful look at your hometown and evaluate the job market, schools and cost of living.
  • Career goals – The Department of Defense’s mandatory Transition Assistance Program will help you prepare for life after active duty. Whether you plan to pursue a civilian job, continue your education or join the Reserves, the Transition Assistance Program will help you develop a plan and make sure you are ready to pursue your goals. For more information, contact your installation Transition Assistance Program. In addition, the Military Spouse Transition Program provides guidance to help MilSpouses transition to civilian life, including starting or continuing a career. Learn more about your career path and finding the right job.

Consider your options

Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you, like job opportunities, schools, climate or cost of living. Then, do your research to find the best match.

The following can help you make the military-to-civilian transition a little easier:

  • Take advantage of resources like the CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center, sponsored by the Department of Labor. The CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center website allows you to access free interest and skills assessments, explore civilian careers and education options, search for jobs, learn about benefits, and much more.
  • Search websites – Many websites can help you find the best places to live by letting you order the importance of categories like education, crime rates, climate and housing costs. You can narrow your search by preferences or compare your favorite cities.
  • Find local information – Eligible users can search for local community information on the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website. On the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS home page, after the words “I’m looking for a …” choose the option “State resources.” Then click on the words “VIEW ALL STATE RESOURCES” located under the magnifying glass. This brings up a list of all 50 states. Click on any state, then look for the box titled “Local Community Information.” Click on the link for eligible users. You will need to enter your Military OneSource user identification and password to access the tool.
  • Identify unique, personal preferences – Some preferences can’t be factored into a test on a website. You may want to live close to a military installation so you and your family can take advantage of military benefits. Or you may want to move near a particular reserve unit where you can train in a specialized area.
  • Weigh your options – Write down the available choices and assess the pros and cons of each. Use your list to help you look objectively at options.
  • Prepare for mixed emotions – Be prepared for different kinds of feelings as you transition from active duty. It’s normal to be nervous about big life changes like this. No decision is 100% guaranteed, but the better you prepare, the more likely you are to set up yourself and your family for success.

Access military support

Your relocation benefits include one final move from your last duty station within the time and geographic limits listed below. If you live in installation housing, you may be allowed one move out of housing into the local community and another final move within these limits. Check with your installation transportation office for details on benefits specific to your final move.

  • Retirement – You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your retirement date. (This is called a home of selection.)
  • Involuntary separation (honorable discharge) – You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
  • Voluntary separation (honorable discharge) – You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation date. If you choose a destination of greater distance, you will be obligated to pay the additional costs.
  • General discharge (under honorable conditions) – You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation.

Once you have made your decision where to move, contact your installation transportation office about scheduling your move. The earlier you start to plan, the more likely you are to get the move dates you want.

If you or another veteran is without a home or facing eviction or foreclosure while transitioning out of military service, the Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to help. For more information, call 877-4AID-VET, or visit the VA Veterans Experiencing Homelessness webpage.

Finding a place to call home after you separate from the military is one of the first big steps in civilian life. Fortunately, you have access to a number of benefits and resources that can help you with this transition. Educate yourself with the right information and you’ll be enjoying home sweet home very soon.

12 Ways to Land That Civilian Job

Service members attending job fair

You’ve proven your commitment, discipline and resourcefulness in the military world. Now it’s time to trade in your experience for a great job. Just like everything, it’s all about readiness and attitude. Start early. Be prepared. Go for it.

A Full Year of Support

As you transition into civilian life, you and your family have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options. Prefer to live chat? Start now.

  1. First step, verify yourself. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training, or VMET, summarizes your skills, knowledge and experience, and suggests civilian equivalent job titles. To obtain a copy of your VMET, visit the milConnect website.
  2. Get a career assessment. You have considerable strengths and skills. Now, how can they be applied to a civilian job? A career assessment can point the way. Contact your local transition assistance office and ask your counselor how you can be set up with a career assessment free of charge.
  3. Translate your experience. Your military licenses or certifications might not be recognizable to the civilian world. Learn how to translate your training and experience into skills employers recognize with Credentialing Opportunities Online, or COOL. Visit the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website to learn more and locate your service branch’s COOL website.
  4. Assess, repeat. Narrow your search to a few career fields, check salary information and common skill requirements. The CareerOneStop website, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers free skills and interest assessments, career exploration tools, and much more. They also have a section specifically for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses. Decide on the type of job, pay range and location you’re willing to accept. But don’t pigeon-hole yourself. If you’re not making headway, adjust your expectations or explore new options.
  5. Get out there. Take advantage of every resource and opportunity: recruiters, military transition offices, veteran service organizations, online information. Utilize and grow your network. Contact your nearest employment office or private employment agencies (make sure you know who’s paying). Check internet job sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor – but watch it. Get recommendations for trustworthy sites.
  6. Tap your transition assistance office. Take an employment workshop. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads, career counseling and computer access for online job searches. Transition assistance offices have a wealth of services. You can also visit the Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program website for more resources.
  7. Look good online. Employers check social media almost immediately when they’re thinking of hiring. Do you need to remove material that makes you look like a bad hire? Get a professional email address or headshot? How about creating or updating your profile on LinkedIn?
  8. Hit the job fairs. This is one-stop shopping. Meet potential employers, pass out resumes and interview on the spot, all in one place. Look sharp and practice your interview skills beforehand. Learn about upcoming job fairs and who will be there at your transition office as well as online. Check out CareerOneStop’s tips for creating or updating your resume.
  9. Go from military to Fed. Find civilian jobs online with the federal government through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. You can also create an account and build your resume at USAJOBS. Brush up on federal hiring with FedsHireVets.
  10. Network, then network some more. Networking is one of the most effective of all job search tools. You’ve made a lot of great connections during your time in the service. Transition is the right time to start putting them to work. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. It’s just a good thing anyway to re-establish friendships as you transition. Learn more from CareerOneStop about why networking is your most important job search strategy.
  11. Take advantage of your status. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for groups with programs for service members such as:

Your military experience is valuable to many employers. Not many people have your proven work ethic and dedication. Like everything, finding the right job is a matter of being prepared and doing the work. You’re in the military. You know how to make that happen. And there are lots of people and resources who want to back you up.

Guard and Reserves – The Essentials

National Guardsman salutes the flag.

Joining the National Guard or reserves is a good way to stay connected to the benefits of military life while fully participating in civilian life. Reserve duty is also a viable path to military retirement which can be obtained through 20 years of combined active and reserve duty.

Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your options:

Are the reserves right for you?

Reserve duty can do more than fulfill your obligation. It’s also a good way to keep one foot in the military community and one foot in the civilian world. As a reservist, you can be connected to the benefits of military life and civilian life at the same time. Find out if reserve duty is right for you by reading Is Your Next Step Joining the Reserves? Get the Basics.

Know your benefits

Don’t let benefits you’ve earned slip through your fingers just because you’re in the National Guard or reserves. Guard and reserve members can take advantage of benefits and services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, just like their active-duty counterparts. The VA can help Guard and reserve members cover the cost of school, secure a home loan or acquire life insurance. Learn more in these resources:

Understand your special benefits: Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn service members

Active-duty, Guard or reserve service members returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn deserve the easiest possible transition back to civilian life. To thank service members for their sacrifice, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a variety of services and benefits, such as ongoing medical insurance, tuition assistance, options to keep your life insurance and readjustment counseling. Learn more about Veterans Affairs Benefits for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn Transitioning Service Members.


Information is power when it comes to a successful separation or transition from the military. Find out more about National Guard and reserve benefits in the following resources:

Military OneSource provides an array of services to help you conclude your life as an active-duty service member and advance to the next step. Call 800-342-9647 for specialty consultations or to connect to a variety of other resources. You can also use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat

4 Tips for Transition and Career Success

Service member looking into sunset

Making the transition into civilian life is exciting but does take preparation. Make sure you are well-prepared by following these four tips.

Receive personalized support for your transition.

Military OneSource assists in easing transition stress with our specialty consultation for transitioning veterans.

  1. Maximize your individual transition plan: Make the most of your individual transition plan. Your ITP is your transition road map, and you will develop one during pre-separation counseling. If used correctly, your ITP will help guide you through tough decisions like your next career move, meeting your financial goals or continuing your education. Develop your plan with care and thought toward your goals and objectives for any areas of your life affected by the transition. Update and refine action steps to help keep you focused on your goals.
  2. Stay motivated: Bring your “can-do” attitude to this next step in life. Approach civilian life with the same strength, curiosity and courage with which you carried out your military mission.
  3. Practice networking: Transition assistance programs emphasize the importance of networking for your job search and career development. Networking simply means talking to people about your career goals. Seek out people who may be able to help you with advice, job leads and contacts, and let them know about your skills and employment goals. For helpful tips on networking, visit the Department of Labor sponsored CareerOneStop website.
  4. Show confidence: Take time to recognize and appreciate the scope of knowledge, skills and abilities you acquired in the military. It will be easier to present yourself to any prospective employer when you show confidence in your military experience. Not only do you have exceptional technical skills and training, you’ve also mastered the military traits of good discipline, teamwork, leadership and the ability to put mission first. Employers value these qualities in applicants regardless of the nature of the work.

Practice these four simple steps to help boost your personal and career development and ease your transition from military to civilian life.

Military Separation: What to Expect When Your Service Member Transitions to Civilian Life

A technician works on an electrical system

Your service member’s military career is winding down and civilian life awaits. As with all endings and new beginnings, this next stage may bring a mix of sadness, optimism, unease and excitement.

Learning what to expect during military separation and planning for what comes next can help ease anxiety, clarify goals and set your service member up for success.

How your service member may be feeling

Separating from the military isn’t merely trading one career for another; it’s a significant change that may affect nearly every aspect of life. It’s helpful to be aware of some of the ways your service member may be feeling before, during and after the transition. Your service member may be:

  • Excited about new possibilities outside of the military.
  • Overwhelmed by the number of choices ahead, including where to live and how to earn an income.
  • Mourning the loss of community, a reliable support system and the deep sense of purpose and camaraderie that comes with being in the military.

You can support your service member just by being available to listen as they sort through their feelings and work their way through the transition.

Supporting your service member during the transition to civilian life

Your service member may have clear goals for civilian life and a plan to meet each one. Or, your loved one may have little idea what to do next. There’s a lot to think about when separating from the service, so the earlier your service member begins planning, the smoother the transition will be. Some considerations include:

  • Where to live. For the first time since entering the military, your service member has unlimited choices of where to live. Will your service member return home to family? Settle in another part of the country? Rent or buy a home? You might help your service member think through the pros and cons of different areas, including employment opportunities and housing costs. Veterans may qualify for a home loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which may influence the decision about whether to rent or buy.
  • Whether to continue their education or enter the workforce. Some separating service members enroll in college full time, while others start their careers, launch a business or enter a training program or apprenticeship. Your service member may qualify for benefits to help with the cost of education, as well as services to help with the decision.
  • Which career field to enter. You can help your service member with this choice by talking about ways their military training, skills and experiences translate to the civilian workforce. You might ask about long-term goals, the education or training required to achieve them and which education and training benefits are available to help with the cost. With goals set, your service member can then research education or training programs and begin the application process. Or, if the plan is going directly into the workforce, the discussion points might include beginning to network, preparing a resume and identifying potential employers.

The Transition Assistance Program, or DODTAP

The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs offer many resources to help transitioning service members clarify their goals and understand which benefits they qualify for. Among these is the Transition Assistance Program, which is mandatory for separating service members who have served 180 continuous days or more on active duty. DODTAP offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to equip service members with the tools and resources to succeed in their civilian lives. It includes:

  • Individualized initial counseling during which your service member will complete a self-assessment and begin developing a transition plan.
  • Pre-separation counseling to learn about benefits, entitlements and resources.
  • A series of briefings focusing on managing the transition, translating military skills to the civilian world, financial planning, benefits and services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and finding a career.
  • Instruction on finding employment, vocational training, higher education or entrepreneurship.

Service members must complete TAP no later than a year before leaving the military. Retiring service members should begin the process at least two years before retirement.

Transitioning to Civilian Life

View this webinar, which discusses steps to make the shift easier.

Other resources to help with the transition

  • The Transitioning Veterans Specialty Consultation from Military OneSource is tailored to your service member’s unique needs. The series of 45-minute consultations cover goal setting, benefits review, VA assistance, exploring education opportunities, workforce preparation and becoming familiar with online resources.
  • The Military Spouse Transition Program helps military spouses throughout their military journey, including the transition to civilian life.
  • Military OneSource is available to veterans and their families for 365 days post separation from the military. Military OneSource offers non-medical counseling, as well as help with career planning, relocation and housing, personal finances, tax filing and accessing benefits for veterans.
  • The Credential Opportunities On-Line program is offered by each service branch to help service members translate their training into civilian credentials.
  • The Veterans Benefits Administration website lists VA benefits available to veterans.

The military equips service members with skills, abilities and experiences that serve them well in the civilian world. These inner resources, along with the support of loved ones like you and the benefits and services available, will help your service member transition smoothly into this exciting next phase of life.

Read This: Must-Dos for Separating

Soldier saluting

You’ve made the decision. Now it’s time to make the most of it. There’s a list of tasks to accomplish, and most of them come with a due date:

A Full Year of Support

As you transition into civilian life, you and your family have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options. Prefer to live chat? Start now.

  • DO get your plans in place. Think about your post-military goals and the income you’ll need. Start researching how your military experience could translate to a civilian career. Learn about your installation’s Transition Assistance Program available to help you and your family prepare for a successful transition.
  • DO start your Transition Assistance Program early. You must complete a mandatory initial counseling session with a transition counselor and complete pre-separation counseling no less than 365 days prior to your separation or retirement date. During TAP, you’ll also receive briefings from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor. For extra assistance in your transition, check out Military OneSource’s specialty consultation for transitioning veterans. And remember, you can attend TAP more than once!
  • DO schedule a final medical and dental exam. You’ll need a mandatory, final medical and dental exam with your installation’s medical clinic 90 days before you separate.
  • DO schedule the move of your household goods. The earlier, the better. You’ll have one year after leaving active duty to complete your final move. The sooner you can schedule, the better your chances of getting the dates you want.
  • DO talk to your spouse about participating in the Military Spouse Transition Program. This program is designed to guide military spouses through the military to civilian transition.


  • DON’T wait until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to complete all the tasks required. Many have to be completed 365 days before you separate.

Re-enlist, Reserves, or Transition? 4 Things to Consider

Soldier testing new technology

Maybe you’re just ending your first tour of duty. Maybe you’ve fulfilled your obligation to your country. Now, you’re at a crossroads – re-enlist, reserves, transition out? How do you know you’re making the right call?

A Full Year of Support

As you transition into civilian life, you and your family have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options. Prefer to live chat? Start now.

This is going to affect your future, so think it through. Take stock, review your options. Here are four things you need to assess to make your best decision:

What benefits will you have available?

Benefits differ, depending on whether you’re separating, transitioning to the reserves, or retiring. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers benefits briefings as part of your transition assistance. Here are some of the benefits you may be able to receive:

  • Transition assistance for active duty, Guard and reserve, wounded service members and more.
  • A steady paycheck, if you decide to continue your service in the reserves
  • Education and training opportunities
  • Home loans and housing assistance
  • Life insurance
  • Medical services can be accessed for up to two years after discharge for some service members.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges are available for retirees, National Guardsmen and reservists.

If you’ve been injured during service, you may receive extra care and support. Learn about wounded warrior specialty consultations, health care, benefits and more.

Living costs outside the military

Civilian life has its expenses and its tradeoffs. No more basic allowance for housing, but you can move anywhere you want without orders. You won’t have that steady military paycheck and job security, but you can go for that civilian job you’ve always wanted. Here are some of the most important costs of civilian life to prepare for:

  • Housing will probably be your biggest monthly expense, but you may be entitled to VA home loans as well as benefits to help you make your final move.
  • Health care. Veterans who aren’t enrolled in VA health care will need health insurance. That can mean monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. TRICARE Reserve Select is available worldwide for qualified Selected Reserve and their families.
  • Saving for retirement. Setting aside some money every month for retirement is vital. Got a job on the horizon? Compare the employer’s plan with the military’s retirement plan. Use this military compensation calculator to see what your military retirement would look like.

A job and income after service

A good civilian job makes all the difference in a successful transition out of the military. You’ll find lots of assistance and resources available – including some on this site – to help you line up a good job.

  • When you’re making the decision to separate, start planning for employment as soon as possible, ideally about a year out.
  • A big part of pre-separation planning is Career and Employment Readiness.
  • Check out these tips for 12 Ways to Land a Civilian Job, and remember you have access to Military OneSource assistance for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Civilian living versus military life

You’re not just changing jobs or making a move – you’re changing the way you and your family live. Sure you’re used to change, but this can be different. Be prepared.

  • You’ll be leaving behind close friends. Workplace camaraderie will probably be different. Job security may be different too. But on the other hand, no more orders.
  • Some people choose to combine military and civilian life and transition to the reserves.
  • Talk to your family before you make your decision. Don’t underestimate the impact transitioning will have on them. Listen to their concerns and opinions. List the positive and negative aspects of the changes and consider which are most important for your family.

The takeaway? Don’t rush a decision to avoid less-than-ideal orders. At the same time, don’t re-enlist just to avoid the uncertainty of leaving. If you’re still undecided, contact your installation’s Transition Assistance Program office for more guidance on the transition process and next steps.

Whatever you decide, once you’ve made your decision, be all in. You’ve done your homework and can move ahead with confidence.