10 Truths About Military Transition

family homecoming marine

After the worst move in military history (really: every single table we own was either broken in half, smashed, or crushed), the Big Change has finally happened: We’re civilians.

Well, the hubs is a Reservist. But the rest of us? We’re civilians. We don’t live on a base. We don’t have combat boots at the door. And – crying into my USMC Wife coffee cup – we don’t have military neighbors next door.

After one full month of civilian life, I can tell you with absolute certainty: Here are ten truths about transition you might as well know now.

10 Truths About Military Transition.

1. No matter how many times you’ve muttered “I can’t wait to get out, I hate the ____,” you will automatically want to rush up and knock on the door of any home flying your branch’s flag. THEY ARE FAMILY!, you’ll think.

2. If someone says they are a Reservist or they’re married to a Reservist or were once in the military or – jackpot – mentions that they are a military family now, you jump all over them like a starved fly on honey and sincerely believe you have met your new best friend. They’re military. You like them Just Cause. Actual affection-inducing personal qualities are completely irrelevant.

3. You may suddenly miss the commissary. You’d even be willing to go on payday.

4. You will start wearing all the brag gear you hid at the bottom of your dresser beneath all the old green tee shirts when your family was active duty. Seriously. I am wearing a USMC hat, sweatshirt, AND jacket today. That’s three more items of USMC-clothing than I’ve worn in the past six years combined.

5. You will wake up on the first Federal Holiday Monday you experience as a civilian family and curse the new civilian lifestyle. It’s a holiday, dammit! (NB: You immediately forget overnight duty, weeks of trainings, and the hard, cold truth of deployment… all of it is erased when your spouse heads to the civilian job on that day you KNOW should be the end of a 96.)

6. You use the words “after action report,” “PCS,” or “dependo” in completely appropriate context and people look at you like you’re stark raving mad. You wonder if you are, too, but you can’t call Military One Source about it now. SOB.

7. You pester your spouse about doing some fun outing with his or her team at the new job because you don’t know the other spouses yet and, obviously, this is completely unacceptable. “We need some mando fun!” you insist. “I need to meet everyone!” The other spouses immediately think you’re nuts.

8. You actually long to visit places like Ft. Hood, Camp Lejeune, and Twentynine Palms. Your people are there.

9. You become terrified your children will grow up spoiled brats without the reinforced manners and (admit it) obedience you could count on being the expected social norm on base.

10. You secretly worry you’re no longer going to be in the club and completely forgotten because your spouse only puts on those cammies once a month now or – gasp – doesn’t put them on at all. But no matter what, those cammies still hang in the closet.

… They probably always will.
If you’ve transitioned out, you know this list all too well. What would you add?

About the Author

Raleigh Duttweiler
Raleigh Duttweiler is a writer and social media expert living just outside the gates of MacDill in sunny Saint Petersburg, Florida. A Marine Corps wife, she has navigated the stress of Active Duty moves, trainings, and deployments, and now that her family has transitioned to the Reserves, she's experiencing the "weekend warrior" side of military life. (NB: It's not quite as part-time as advertised.) When not writing about benefits and military families, Raleigh posts here about truly life-altering, important issues like What Not to Wear to a Military Ball (visible thongs), Military Halloween Costumes We Love to Hate (ones that generally resemble both military uniforms AND thongs), and how to pack awesome care packages. She is passionate about spouse employment, higher education, and helping families navigate the often-bumpy transition back into civilian life. Raleigh also manages the SpouseBUZZ and Military.com Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, so be sure to say hi!
  • Brigid


  • Gaby- Homefrontgirl™

    I have been there and felt all of this! #1,2,6,7,8 SO TRUE!! I would add the moment when you are no longer living in quarters and you tell your -no-longer-wear-cammies-civilian-hubby of 25 years that you need the number for DPW because the plumbing is not working or the trash didn’t get picked up and he smiles and says, “uh, you mean a plumber, sweetie.” Dorothy, wakes up! You’ll miss it.

    • Raleigh Duttweiler

      It’s so true.

  • MarinePet

    Minor nitpick: Since your hubby is a Reservist, you CAN call the Military OneSource line! That includes our IRR brothers and sisters, and their dependents. In fact, even if you fully transition out, you have 180 days after EAS/ETS to call them.

    They’d be happy to comfort you about your tables. :)

    • Raleigh Duttweiler

      They’ve actually been really awesome. But knowing that one day that will end… back to SOB : )

  • USN Ret/Navy Wife

    LOL, thought I was the only one to feel that way. Retired and returned from an overseas assignment in June ten years ago. By August was working at a civilian job in a community with one military command and a small Army detachment. They PTd a few mornings a week at the middle school close to where we lived. I started jogging every morning before work so I could run by and hear them work out!

    • Raleigh Duttweiler

      Right??? There is a family I’m totally stalking in our neighborhood with an EGA flag out front. We’re right by McDill, so there’s still a ton of military around, but I feel like I’m always eavesdropping… ohhhhheeeeey stranger see the spot where my base tags used to be? be my friend!

  • Veteran, Mil Moves

    Love this!

    • Raleigh Duttweiler

      So glad!

  • Robert

    So true, also about every 2 years you feel the need to move.

  • Claire

    It has been a year since my marine got his dd214. Every marine corps documentary on Netflix has already been watched, I have found all of my moto gear, wore my Iraqi freedom T-shirt last night and MWR Bahrain weightlifting shirt this afternoon ( I somehow shrink all the hubs shirts and then they are mine), regret scraping the EGA off of my car when we returned from Japan so it has been replaced by a huge Semper Fi sticker, and find myself wanting to take a day trip to Beaufort because I miss the smell of marsh and stinky recruit. I am magically drawn to even the tiniest EGA that I pass. We now live nowhere near a military base but I pathetically get excited when I see the national guard in cammies every once in a while. I have to keep myself from saying to a complete stranger, ” hey, my husband is a marine” because although I think it is pertinent information that ties us all together, they would probably just think I’m loony. It wasn’t long ago that I remember grumbling with the hubs about the other branches wearing their cammies out in public, why wear digis to the mall?! Is it just as hard with other branches to transition, or has that marine corps pride struck again? I wasn’t even the one in the marine corps and I miss it terribly!!!!