How do you see yourself spending your time after leaving or retiring from the Air Force?
Each military branch offers support options to help you make the transition, but what are things you want to do and how do you plan for life after being in the Air Force? As you set out to define your next steps here are some points to help you understand your options.
• Utilize transition tools (programs and extended details). These are sources provided by your military branch to help you think about various aspects of transitioning. This is something to consider if you plan to transition back to a civilian. Such tools are useful if you need assistance developing a resume, network with potential employers who hire retired military members, and you can review skills you have learned in the military that can help you fit in as a civilian.
• Do you need additional training or want to earn a degree or certification? There are many online colleges begging for your VA dollars. Be careful. When interviewing schools be selective and ask questions. My personal favorite questions are what is the graduation rate, the average time or number of years to earn the degree. There are opportunities to consider that may require additional training outside of your military skills. This is an option when you want to take military skills learned and turn it into a civilian career. Do you qualify for GI Bill program? Take time to brush up on fundamental skills you will find helpful after military life such as interviewing skills and networking skills.
• Utilize your Air Force benefits (retiree benefits). Each branch offers unique benefits for service men and women retiring. This information can help you obtain funds to pay for school, purchase a home, seek employment or purchase life insurance. First stop is to check out Veteran Affairs!
• Do you have a budget? It can be challenging planning a retirement budget, but there are tools to help you such as the Military Pay Retirement Calculator. Do you have an idea of how things will be paid for? Do you have a savings account or funds put away for emergency? You should also think about having a list of financial sources to consider if you think you will need assistance covering expenses. Be prepared for emergencies. If you’re not currently in the middle of one, I can assure you that one is coming. Always have the golden nest egg!
• Review medical benefits and veteran healthcare coverage. Your military branch should provide some ideas on health coverage you qualify for. There are also military sources providing this information through the Department of Veteran Affairs. Look into options for medical, dental and life insurance if you don’t have these items already. Consider how much you may need to pay for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
• Have a list of people to network with or maintain contact after retirement. It can be helpful to stay in touch with people you worked with in the military. You may find a contact useful in helping you obtain work, or leads on options you can take for other areas of your life. Having a list of contacts may help you identify gaps in your life you can work to fill to make retirement enjoyable.
• Have a positive outlook and keep things positive. You may experience situations that test your patience. You may have moments when you feel you are not sure what your next step should be. Stay focused on what you want to achieve and keep options open.
In summary, your Air Force retirement is to be enjoyed and not years of burden. Plan ahead whenever possible. If you’re healthy, consider a part-time job or even a full-time career, not necessarily for the money although that may be grand, but to keep you active in the community. For me, I love seeing veterans out serving others in the business life and the community. This can be done either in the find local church or the dozens of charities. Not to mention the numerous veteran organizations.
The goal here is to enjoy a productive life after your US Air Force service. How you define ‘productive’ is entirely up to you! Enjoy!