JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD Its been said that lifes only two certainties are death and taxes. However, for those of us in uniform, Id also add our inevitable transition from military to civilian life to the list.
It doesnt matter where you are in your military career, at some point each and every one of us will make that transition and if you havent already started, the perfect time to begin planning for it is right now.
Sometimes, we dont get as much time to prepare as wed like. Maybe a family issue, a health problem, educational opportunity or a force shaping initiative might alter or even derail your current career plans life is uncertain, be ready!
The more effort you put into the planning and preparation, the smoother your transition will be and there are two main areas Id suggest you concentrate on your education and financial security. Both are in investment in yourself and will pay you dividends while youre on active duty and later in life as well.
If you havent been saving money regularly for your inevitable retirement, be it from active duty or a civilian occupation, youre missing out on the single biggest wealth building factor time. Time plays a huge factor in how your savings will grow. For example, if you start saving just $50 per pay period at age 20, assuming a 10% return, you could be a millionaire by the time youre 65 years old.
Thats less than $3.50 a day!
Maybe you could pack your own lunch rather than eating out, eliminate trips to the vending machine or skip that fancy coffee drink.
Contributing to the Thrift Savings Plan through direct deposit, another benefit of your military service is about as easy as it gets and the sooner you start the more you stand to gain through time and compounding interest. For more info or to start saving through the TSP, visit www.tsp.org.
Hopefully youve already taken advantage of your generous education benefits your military career offers. The Community College of the Air Force is the largest multi-campus community college in the world and offers fully accredited associate in applied science degrees in your Air Force specialty and gives credit for the training youve already completed. Tuition Assistance can help you reach further educational goals while youre still on active duty while offsetting the majority of the cost along the way.
Certainly, continuing your education will make you a better Airman and will make you more competitive in the civilian job market when it comes time to separate or retire. According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, a bachelors degree is worth almost a million dollars more in lifetime earnings over a high school diploma.
If youre a supervisor, its incredibly important that you learn as much as you can about transition so that youll be prepared when your time comes and so youll be able to educate and counsel your subordinates as well. Right here at JBLM there are some amazing apprenticeship opportunities available to transitioning service members. The Veterans in Piping program is an 18-week, full time industrial welding, pipe fitting or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning training program offering direct entry into a 5-year paid apprenticeship program.
The six-week Veterans Entering Trucking apprenticeship program offers full commercial drivers licensing training with all endorsements. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades program is three-week, full-time training program offering direct entry into a four-year paid apprenticeship.
Finally, the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is 18-weeks of intensive computer programming training offering graduates college credit and a guaranteed interview with Microsoft. For more information on these and other programs, visit the JBLM Transition Program Website at www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/dhr/acap/.
The bottom line is the more you know, the earlier you start and the more effort you put into planning and preparing for your inevitable transition, the smoother and more successful it will be. What are you waiting for?