Poll: What Year of Military Transition Was Hardest For You?


According to the research, there are only two ways to leave the military: voluntarily or involuntarily.


If you leave because it is your own idea — you discover the military is not for you after your first enlistment, you were only doing it to get college money, you really, really, don’t want your boss’s job — then the research shows that your outcome will be pretty smooth. Civilian world, here I come!

If they have to push you out — they downsized your specialty, you got passed over, you were denied reenlistment, they took you to Captain’s Mast or you were prosecuted under the UCMJ — your transition is bound to be a little harder.

Good to know, huh?

Not really. Any idiot could predict that the things you don’t want to do are going to be harder than the things you do want to do.

Turns out we don’t know a lot about how the transition process goes for you. And we SpouseBuzzers are interested. So over the next couple of months we are going to be asking for more details.

Veterans, please start by telling us about what year of transition was hardest for you — and spouses, tell us what was hardest for your family. Take our poll, and then check out the results below for what other people have said.

Fill out my online form.


Photos by Military.com

About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.
  • Amanda

    I am an AF spouse. Leaving voluntarily ended up being very hard for us, even though that was the original plan. My husband feed up re enlisting after about a year as a civilian! Now we realize we love military life, and they’ll have to kick him out, because we ain’t leaving again!
    Separating from the lifestyle was so hard. We missed it a lot, and we weren’t prepared for the ” culture shock”.

  • jojo613

    The period of time when I put in my paperwork to leave. I think I lost a lot of respect from my fellow airmen, because I had voluntarily left.

  • ken

    There should be a category for medical retirements. The year leading to my MED board was scary because everything was in a flux.

  • nena

    Being pushed out…..!

  • retusnnavywife

    The first year after I actually left the military and worked in the civilian world.

    Worked for an individually owned company. Found out I am not happy in a small business owned by someone else! Had to tell myself that after a year of hard work, I could actually look for a better paying job in a large corporation.

  • kristen

    You forgot medboard. The whole process is miserable.

  • Nena

    Being push out……!

  • Armybeef68

    And here’s something else I decided not to post, but will here,

    “Don’t worry though, I’m not actually going to do anything, sleeping pills make me vomit, one belt broke, that sent me into the side of the closet, slammed my head against the door trim but didn’t feel a thing, I felt like I was drunk, and the other belt, well, that’s the weirdest feeling of all is when only half your body goes into convulsions, yep, just the left side, my shoulder, my side, down my leg and all the way to my foot, that’s when I realized that I really don’t want to be a vegetable, and so I’m just looking forward to the day when I can be #23”

    And yes, I have talked to counselors, oh, I’m sorry, I meant I’ve tried, a few times actually, and you know what I heard? “I’m sorry but today is my last day of employment here, I gave your case to another counselor and they’ll contact you as soon as they can” So yea, another waste of time, but than I decided to not follow through this time because I know what will happen, the police will put me in handcuffs, in front of the entire neighborhood, you know, lights flashing, multiple cars, the whole nine yards, than they’ll put me in a 72 hour hold, they’ll tell me, “you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong with you, here’s some pills, group counseling is once a week”

    Now I won’t be able to get a government job, heck, hardly any job, wouldn’t even be able to be a janitor for the city much less McDonald’s. Than like I said, I keep hearing about all these other soldiers, I heard of one that got 100% disability for only being in basic training for two weeks, than I just read about the VA relaxing the rules on PTSD, you only have to show you were over there, I hear people complaining about it, I think to myself, will never happen to me, instead it will be, “here’s some pills, group therapy is next wednesday”

    Than today was the worst, I really wanted that job, I was extremely qualified for it, and it was blatantly obvious they weren’t even interested, sure, they said it would take a couple weeks before I found out for sure, but we all can read body language, wasn’t too hard to figure out, and I still have the military mentality, I miss that life, I still act the way I did when I was in, the Army taught me a lot, it changed my life, it gave me a work ethic I never understood before, now I know what attention to detail really means, dress right dress, I still live my life that way.

    So now I’ve lost my girlfriend, who was actually a Marine, if you can scare away a Marine, you’ve got problems, she’s on 60%, we even talked about buying a house together, but thanks to my attitude, that’s not going to happen, I lost my job, yea, I have another one but you know what I mean, and today was the final straw, I have given up, I’m done, I’m finished, life has beaten me, I’ve been asking for help and no one has come, I give up.

  • Armybeef68

    So like I said, the depression is really bad, can’t hardly wait until I’m #23, only reason why I’m still around is because of my mom, and that actually didn’t matter a few times, but I’m a failure at that also, in fact, here is something I wrote on another website that asked us what we thought about Robin William’s death,

    “”What do you think?”

    What do I think? Lucky Robin is what I think, isn’t it great that I have every single sign, no really, I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE,

    “Veterans who are considering suicide often show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness, such as:

    Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
    Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating—that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse
    Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
    Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance
    Withdrawing from friends, family, and society, or sleeping all the time
    Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about
    Frequent and dramatic mood changes
    Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
    Feelings of failure or decreased performance
    Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life
    Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation
    Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems”

    And no one gives a shit, for the last seven years I’ve been screaming for help, I’ve been on the side of the building, waving my arms and jumping up and down for help, and all I hear are crickets. Than again who am I to ask for anything, I don’t deserve it, I was just doing my job, I’ve seen people coming home as stumps, they deserve whatever they ask for, I don’t deserve anything, but than I hear about people getting 100% disability for being in basic training for two weeks, I guess I was just never meant to have anything good happen to me.

    So now I’ll just go back to surviving, lucky Robin is what I say, I can hardly wait to be #23″

  • Armybeef68

    The last 7 years has been the hardest, I should have never left in the first place, it took a lot getting in, I was 34 at the time and enlisted because of September 11th, now it’s been hell for the last 7 years, it took me 4 months to get a job, than I quit that to do what I had been doing before I enlisted, it took me 4 more months to do that, I slept on the floor of my mom’s one bedroom apartment for 4 years, than I finally found a job that paid a living wage, and finally moved out, did that job for 4 years, than got fired three weeks after recovering over $5,554 in unpaid wages.

    Now I can’t find anybody to help me, and I’ve been asking for help, over and over and over, and over some more, not just with my case, which I’ve been told I have a federal case for retaliation, but everything else, finding a job, writing a resume, all I hear from the OIF case manager is “I don’t know”, the Vet Center is the same, Swords to Plowshares has been a waste of time, same with the DAV, VFW, AMVETS, IAVA. The depression has been bad, I mean really bad, I was on unemployment for a year, that ran out, I went through the $18,000 I was going to use to buy my mom a new car, now I have less than $100 in one account and less than $20 in the other, I’ve been having to borrow money to survive.

    I used to have a lot of confidence in myself, came home with an attitude, now I can’t even look at myself in the mirror, I mean literally, I’ve gained 60 pounds, I look nothing like I did when I came home, I leave my mirrored closet doors open, I leave my medicine cabinet open, when I walk up to a glass door I look away. I hate asking anybody for help, detest it actually, than when I finally gather up the courage to ask, all I hear is crickets.

    I have been asking for help with a resume, asked 21 different people, taken 5 different classes, signed up for EDD, NOVA, Swords, Work2Future, and not one single one has helped me write one, I mean WITH me, not tell me how to write it, kind of like a resume writing service that doesn’t charge $500, I finally got a job, for less than half what I was making before, and part time at that, than today I applied for a job at MEPS, doing the same exact thing I was doing in the Army, of course we all know how that turned out, my dream job, I’ve been saying that if I’m not in the Army, I’d like to work for the Army, been saying that for 7 years, and because I no longer have confidence in myself, I can’t even talk my way out of a paper bag, and I was really good at my job too.

  • Armybeef68

    Oops, sorry about that, I figured that the last paragraph would be down at the bottom, had to break it up into sections and I can’t delete it, so start at the bottom and work your way up…Thanks

    but than again…who cares

    • jojo613

      I care. Please call the suicide hotline. 1-800-273-8255.

  • Glenn

    It was the second year for me. The first year I found a good job quickly, put my nose to the grindstone and plowed forward. I forgot all those lessons my Father tried to pass on. The real world doesn’t have a IG to complain to. No old Top SGT to give advise. I was on my own.

    That good job turned out to be temporary. They hired a new tech every 12 to 18 months to clear out the backlog. I pushed too hard and got the storeroom cleared of all the backlog in six months. After all, what would you expect from an old E-7.

    I found a gig delivering lost luggage and ended in the delivery field for the next 14 years. Nobody cared about my 22 years in middle management. My communication skils meant nothing. I only had an Associates degree in a world where 4 year degrees were doing grunt work to pay thier dues. They did not see that I had more than paid mine.

    Once I realized I was unprepared for this rat race I was able to realign my head and actually started to enjoy being a courier. Minimum of presure and maximum of freedom. The truck was my office and I could play the radio as loud as I wanted. I am now fully retired and enjoying the “good life”.

  • City Mouse

    Medical. My life was ripped away from me, my identity gone. I was lost and had no idea who I was anymore. I felt useless.

  • galloglas

    I RELACDU’ed with a severe hearing impairment and a skin rash that would not go away, no medical discharge and no VAMC help.
    The Un-employment man said, “Infantry?” couldn’t you have taken something more job transferable? All we got are two jobs, one is the Mafia and the other is a security guard job.
    I noticed the Veterans files shared a file cabinet with the convicted and paroled felons out of prison. No number or letter differentiated between them.
    I took the Security guard job, $1.75 per hour I lasted two days.
    I got an interview for a job at an Electrical supply store but they said,”We can only make you a delivery boy, we meet the public here in the store and what would folks think if we had a fellow who might shoot up a shopping mall some day working behind the counter?” He turned me down, to much risk from a crazy veteran.
    I got a job at an automobile trim manufacturing place, I was considered for the job of DeVilbis paint gun spray painter, it was familiar they said, I’d be pulling a trigger again. “Just pretend those are Vietnamese your spraying, Ha, Ha, Ha,!”
    I spray painted auto aluminum and stainless steel trim molding, washed paint masks, loaded bumpers, ran anodizing tanks.
    Minimum wage job too, $2.00 an hour, I was desperate for a job, just out of service, married and we needed a place to stay badly so I took it. The wife found a waitress job with her Mom.
    Miserable seven years, then I went to Voc, Tech school, had to choose the job said, either job or school so I quit, they gave every veteran an automatic (B) you could not fail, that kept your VA money rolling in to the school whether you learned or not was your look out. I got paid about $11.00 more than what it cost to go to school, and no one would me hire full or part time someone who was going to Voc Tech schools, “You will just leave when you get done, we want career (insert meaningless job title here_____________) workers and oh No, you are a vet aren’t you, Buh Bye!
    Went to get a job at the sanitation plant shoveling solid waste matter out of liquid on the drying deck, they said I was under qualified.
    The first 10 years after my RELACDU were hardest I ever lived, somehow I raised a son and managed a marriage through all the sin’s and ills of the 70’s and 80’s, never made it though the hearing impairment locked me out of almost every job, finally just had to go with Disability after the kid got out on his own.
    I did everything, shoveled slag at the copper mill, framed houses, siding, drove trucks, nothing lasted long if the job paid squat it lasted longer if it paid good it was here today gone tomorrow.
    I learned early not to tell folks I was a vet, I just had a hard time explaining that four year gap between 17 and 21 with no job, Prison they said? I’d wouldn’t say which.
    That first year after was the worst, hardest and most disillusion filled of all.
    Good luck to all you recent Vets, hope it works out better than it did for me, thanks for the service and sacrifice.

  • NCWife

    Luckily, my husband who retired this past March had a very specialized job in the military… and the last 7 years of his career was spent as a SOF EOD tech. He had a job waiting for him a year before he got out and now makes four times as much as he did in the service not counting his retirement pay. He feels very blessed that he decided to go the EOD route instead of staying infantry as shooter jobs are very competitive and pay pennies compared to what he makes as a civilian EOD.

    We didn’t have any time gaps between his last paycheck and his civilian paycheck. He only works 2 months at a time, and has 2 months off before he works again. And he’s never in any combat situations. Very blessed as we know a lot of people who get out don’t have it as easy or as good.

  • Kim

    I am a woman veteran and was waiting on my medical discharge or they retrain me for another job wanted to stay in but the Army said no way I was in a so called man’s job I was a truckdriver try putting that on a resume and cant do that job when you get out .Had to support my family because my ex didnt want to work he took care of my son while I worked They wouldnt even hire me at McDonalds said because I served overseas I shouldnt work with the public. No help from VA DAV or VFW

  • Erin

    Got out only because our OIC was going to my hometown to be our Chief of Police there and asked us to come with. Rank was froze at time, although by reaping I would have picked up E-5, but I was due to go overseas and my spouse had just come back. We had only been married for a couple years. Anyway, I wish we would have stayed as we both loved the Corp and probably would have found a way to manage the deployments etc. times were extremely difficult at the time. I would love to be tougher now and be able to get back in. The gear and training alone are awesome. Semper Fi!