Transitioning from active duty military to civilian/reservist life was not an easy decision for our family and I think that any family who has gone through it would tell you the same. When Gillette reached out to me this year to share their ‘Every Hero Sweats’ campaign showcasing the lesser known challenges that service members face when retiring or separating from the military and re-entering civilian life, I was pretty humbled.
For years, Gillette has supported veterans and the military. In WWI, they created covert kits for POWs that contained Gillette grooming items, but also other secret supplies like razor-blade compasses, counterfeit German currency, and maps of enemy territory! This year, alongside Operation Homefront they plan to donate an estimated $2.5M worth of product to military families in need.
In celebration of this campaign, I asked Dane for 3 ways to support veterans as they transition to civilian life based on what he learned and felt during his own transition. Today I’m sharing what he told me in hopes that it might be helpful for someone who knows (or is married to!) a transitioning service member.
3 Ways To Support Veterans As They Transition To Civilian Life
1. Stop Asking If They Found A Job Yet
Dane has always reiterated to me that this was the most stressful part of his entire transition — the constant questioning of whether or not he had found a job. This surprised me a little bit and also made me feel a little guilty since I had, of course, always started each day asking if he had gotten any job-related emails.
He says, “Don’t worry – when we get that first offer or the one we plan on taking, we will tell you. It was kind of hard for me to ask for help, but at the same time – it was harder having everyone saying ‘if you need anything, let me know’ I didn’t even know what to ask for, so how could I say what I needed? The support I felt from friends and family was tremendous, but, at times, completely overwhelming.”
2. Help Them Network
Something I have long admired about Dane is his ability to strike up a conversation with nearly anyone he meets, so I initially thought “he will be such a rockstar at networking!” Except the time came for him to network and he struggled to talk about the one thing he probably knows best…himself! He talked to countless recruiters and found ways to take what he did on active duty and turn it into applicable civilian capabilities. The reality is, it’s sometimes really, really hard for veterans to talk about their accomplishments, because it feels boastful.
He says “If you work as a recruiter or in your company’s HR department – let your transitioning military member know and be specific about the field. It’s a total bonus if you’re currently seeking transitioning veterans and can articulate exact needs. This was so helpful for me as I navigated a world that felt totally new to me at first.”
3. Be Their Escape
During Dane’s transition, it often felt like he was living two lives — one at his active duty Army job and one at home researching, networking and applying for jobs. If it sounds exhausting, it’s because it was! I frequently was at a loss on how to best support him, because I didn’t want to add more stress to an already complicated situation.
He says, “If you live locally, ask if they want to go out for dinner or to a movie – just spending time doing things with Kait outside of searching for a job was a great way to clear my mind. If you don’t live close to them, shoot them a text or a call to catch up on life things outside of work.”
Transitioning from active duty military life is no easy feat – physically or mentally – and I hope this post proved helpful in giving just a tiny bit of insight. Thank you so much to the amazing folks at Gillette for this opportunity and all that you do for military families!