My military service began when I was 22. I enlisted as a PV1 Personnel Specialist. I have had some many memories. All in all the experience has shaped me into the person I am today. On those days that I missed my family, I would remind myself of all the benefits that I would receive. I believe that life is managing the lows and the highs with. Using this method ensures you maximize the highs and minimize the lows. The job I remember most is being a Drill Sergeant. It is fulfilling to be a part of the transformation of civilians to Soldiers. This was the first job that forced me out of my comfort zone and it forced me to overcome my fear of heights and public speaking. I am forever grateful. Not only did it allow me to grow but it also allowed me to have a great career. Most of my jobs required long hours but provided both personal and professional satisfaction. This satisfaction came in the form of personal promotions, team member promotions or life changing events. It was great and I truly miss the camaraderie.
I transitioned to civilian life when I was 42. It has been filled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty and overwhelming joy. In my opinion, this transformation requires a shift in mindset. I honestly was ill equipped mentally to transition and severely uneducated about employment in civilian life. I was not prepared to start over. Of course people told me it would be a tough transition but that is what they said my whole military career. I started applying for federal jobs 8 months before I left service. As of today, I have applied to 92 jobs and only have been offered employment 4 times. That is less than a 5% success rate, this is where my mental toughness has been tested. Don't get me wrong, I have been very successful in my civilian career. I just want you to not get discouraged and remember it may not come quick.
I wish someone would have told me about all the VA programs that are available to ensure you have a smooth transition to civilian life.
My name is Jacqueline Hill, Army retiree and current federal civilian. Please share your story and visit www.survivingthemilitary.com.