The news that ended my career in the military, “You’ve got orders to D.C.” It couldn’t have come at a worse time, but without a doubt I knew I was putting my daughter first. My only course of action was to decline the orders. I knew that by declining them I was ending my almost 12 year career in the military. The fear immediately set in. I’d spent my entire adult life in the military. What the f*** was I going to do now?
What the hell else was I good at? I had over a decade in the military and I still hadn’t finished college. I’d taken only one college course in the twelve years I was active duty. I kept putting it off. Now I had to look for a job without a college degree and skills that would make no sense to anyone outside the military. I had no idea how anything I’d done over the last decade would translate into something I could put on a resume.
It wasn’t just the obvious issues like the resume and a college degree that made it tough. I was struggling with PTSD and the accompanying nightmares, flashbacks and constant anxiety. Then there was my language…I spent a chunk of my career working with the army and I had a hard time speaking in sentences that didn’t include four letter words. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that in the “real world“, sarcasm and profanity weren’t going to get me far. This was going to be hard and I was going to have to become someone different if I wanted to get a job.
I was fortunate enough to find a job as a receptionist with a small company before I separated. I think the guy who hired me was impressed by my military decorations. He asked me about my military job and how I’d made it. I didn’t know how to answer that question without it sounding dark. I told him I never stopped moving. I guess that was the right answer because I got the job!
Fitting in…not really
Unfortunately I knew from day one that I didn’t fit in a corporate environment. The people I worked with were nice, but I constantly felt like everything I said sounded stupid or weird. I didn’t know how communicate with or relate to any of my coworkers. I felt like the weird new kid for the almost two years I worked there. I’d never felt socially awkward before, but after 12 years in the military I didn’t know how to not be military. I don’t think it’s something the military could teach you…how to deprogram. Over the next two years my life changed drastically and my transition from the military wasn’t even close to over.
Enjoyed the read, Jessica. Thanks!