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Transition from Soldier to civilian (an SF soldier's story)

Updated on December 13, 2009

Army Gone Civilian

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I've been asked to write about my transition from the Army life to the civilian world. However, I must warn you that my Army life story will be significantly different than most soldiers. I served on the Active Duty side for over 10 years and as an Infantryman. I then went to Ranger school and earned my Ranger tab along with my airborne tab. I then made my way to the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS). This is phase one of becoming a Special Forces Soldier. Once I finished my training, I served with the 19th Special Forces Group. The 19th and 20th SFG are a part of the National Guard. They are the only two SFGs serving under the Army National Guard. Take note however, that a soldier serving under these two groups is far from being a weekend soldier and we often got sent downrange for most of each year. Now lets talk about the transition to the civilian life...

I'll start out by saying it was no easy task and it's something I struggle with even today, 2 years later. You are trained to be the best soldier and serve your country, but you spend so much time away from it that you almost forget what you are fighting for. As soldier for most of my life, I've been trained for one purpose: to fight, to kill, to protect, and watch my men's back at all times. It was only when I was trained as a SF warrior that my boundaries grew. I was trained to understand and assimilate to new cultural settings. This opened my horizons to all kinds of levels. After being sent downrange as SF, I slowly became more of a diplomatic warrior than just a fighting machine. This saved me when I decided to enter the civilian world. I highly recommend that when you enlist in the Army, you pick jobs that will benefit you once you get out. A job like an infantryman will not give you that benefit. It might give you pride and joy, but it will leave your pockets dry in the wind once you get out. I highly recommend choosing a job like Civil Affairs Specialist or 38B. Many assume that this is pansy job, but you have no idea how wrong they are. During my SF training, Civil Affairs joined us! They have just about the same people and cultural skills we do, except they are more diplomatic based.

Now lets talk about the actual transition. Imagine seeing things blow up and getting shot at throughout all the years and now, all of a sudden, you're around "regular people". If you see any ex military roaming around the streets all hot tempered, this is why. Soldiers are trained and "conditioned" away from civilian life. They get punished for acting like civilians in the military and now they are back in the real world. Many think that this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but that's just like saying every German is Nazi which is clearly not the case. In the military, we have an exact life schedule and an exact way of doing pretty much everything. This is not the case once you're off in the private sector.

Having a strong, experience filled background, I was able to get a job in the private sector making almost 1.5x the amount I made in the military. Anyone who wants to enlist must keep this in mind: GET A SECURITY CLEARANCE!!! This means, get a job that requires a secret clearance. Believe me, this will save you when you enter the civilian world. Notice I said world, because it will feel like a whole new planet once you're in for over 10 years.

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    • profile image

      thatguy 4 years ago

      "...earned my airborne tab" ???? I'm calling bullshit on this guy.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Hoooah! So it is, the more things change the more they stay the same.