I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation’s call.
These words should resonate with each of us who have the honor and privilege of wearing the uniform. Each time I recite our creed, I feel a sense of pride. I hope every Airman reading this shares my sentiment. Each day you put on the uniform, you should do so knowing you serve our great nation as a member of the world’s greatest Air Force.
As much as we love serving, there is one scenario that is a definite for all of us. We will eventually take off the uniform one last time. Have you thought about and prepared for that day? What will you do after your military career? Will you seek other employment? Will you seek more education? Will you be in a position of choice financially to pursue a dream or simply not work?
I have asked myself similar questions periodically. As a medical professional, I relied on the assurance I have a skill and credentials that are marketable in the civilian sector. I believe each of us who serve can say the same thing. Military members are well-trained in an array of specialties that will translate at some level in the civilian sector.
But have you thought about the skills gained through extra duties, leadership positions, deployments, etc.? You may not realize it, but the “soft skills” gained through unique military experiences might qualify you for opportunities you never considered. The range of options just might surprise you.
Military members focus on executing the mission every day. We also focus on deliberate development of Airmen, training, mentoring and grooming to ensure continued superiority of our great Air Force. It is my opinion we excel in both of these areas. But as I stated earlier, one day we will no longer wear the uniform. So it is equally important that we, as Airmen, practice deliberate self-development to ensure continued superiority in our lives post military service.
Several years ago, I began the process of preparing for a particular post-retirement career. However, not really thinking about it, I continued to gain and build on my soft skill inventory through continued service and experiences.
It was not until I began transition planning I learned I have more options than I originally thought. This new insight is both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Depending on the career path I chose to pursue, I may need to refocus the direction of my self-development to ensure I am fully prepared.
I challenge and encourage each of you who are still serving on active duty to ask yourself the questions posed earlier on a regular basis. Periodically look at what you have done, including volunteer work, and analyze your experiences and skills gained. Although this commentary does not focus on the financial aspect of transition planning, regular analysis in this area is critical as well. Use the information to ensure you know your range of options, plan adequately and fully prepare for post-military life.