Imagining what life after the military will be like can be exciting, yet intimidating. You’re intrigued by the possibilities and new opportunities open to you, but nervous about acclimating to your newfound civilian life and career.
Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established a wide range of educational and employment programs to help you transition into post-service life and put your best foot forward.
One option available is to expand upon your education.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay for all public school in-state tuition and fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school for up to 36 months. This benefit is available to service members and veterans who have at least 90 days of service after Sept. 10, 2011 and are either still on active duty, honorably discharged or discharged under a service-connected disability after 30 days. This benefit is available for 15 years following your release.
One great thing about the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the variety of training it will pay for. These include:
- Undergraduate and graduate degrees
- Correspondence training
- Entrepreneurship training through the Small Business Development Center
- Flight training
- Independent and distance learning
- Licensing and certification reimbursement (e.g. mechanic, medical technician, attorney)
- Vocational/technical training (e.g. HVAC repair, truck driving, emergency medical training, barber/beautician)
- National testing reimbursement (e.g. LSAT, GRE, GMAT)
- On-the-job training and apprenticeships (e.g. union plumber, hotel management, firefighter)
- Tuition assistance top-up
- Tutorial assistance
The Montgomery GI Bill is also available for active duty service members who enrolled and paid $100 per month for 12 months. Once you have completed your minimum service obligations, you are entitled to a monthly education benefit for up to 36 months.
The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is available if you elected to make contributions from your military pay into an education contribution account. The U.S. government will then match your contributions on a two for one basis.
Another post-service option is returning to the civilian workforce.
The VA offers many services to help you find a job and transition into the civilian workplace through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program.
If you’re having trouble deciding what kind of career you’d like to pursue in your civilian life, the VA offers one-on-one counseling to help you evaluate your interests and talents to pick a field that complements both.
Once you decide what kind of career you want, the VA will help you develop a resume, translate your military experience into civilian skills, identify career goals, provide training and help you find a new job.
They also partner with employers that have made a commitment to hire veterans, and will help employers make accommodations for veterans with disabilities.
Finally, if you are interested in starting your own business, the VA can help you create a business plan and provide training on how to operate and market a small business.
Whatever path you choose, there are many services available to help you succeed in your post-military life, all you have to do is get started.
If you’re interested in learning about other benefits available to veterans, check out our introduction to veteran benefits article.