Inspiring a Positive Transition to Civilian Life

By Max Resnik

April 9, 2012 Updated Apr 9, 2012 at 5:38 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – IPFW’s Walb Student Union played host to SMA Jack Tilley (Ret.) whose presentation focused on what it takes to successfully transition from the military to civilian life.

Tilley, who spoke in front of 30 veterans and students in the international ballroom of Walb, discussed his service in the U.S. Army, which began in1967 as he entered Vietnam. After 45 years of service, Tilley has made it his life’s work to create awareness and opportunities for veterans in the civilian world.

Tilley began his presentation by reminding the audience that approximately 1 million veterans remain out of work, including some 260,000 since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He told today’s veterans and aspiring servicemen and women that planning for a post-military life begins before entering service.

“Plan to get out of the service and prepare yourself. The key really is education—making sure that you go to school and prepare yourself to get out of the service. The other thing is trying to get out of the service debt free, if you can do that. Know where you want to live. Make sure you lay out a plan and understand exactly what you and your spouse—if you’re married—need to do when you get out of the service.”

Part of that planning, according to Tilley, is knowing the entitlements and benefits associated with the G.I. Bill.

“I think that every veteran needs to understand exactly what they're entitlements and benefits are. A lot of people that serve in the military don't know what their entitlements and benefits are, and when they learn, is when they get out of the service.”

Tilley says not finding employment places a greater burden on veterans’ services that currently pay $500 million every year in unemployment benefits. He says those staggering numbers, coupled with the idea that nearly 20 percent of veterans suffer from some form of PTSD, make it crucial to realizing a life after service.

In addition to servicemen and women planning for their futures, Tilley says employers need to plan for the future as well. He says 80,000 veterans, from the army alone, will enter the job market in the next three years.

“Most employers don't know what a veteran brings to the table. I think all employers ought to reach out to veterans’ organizations and talk to them about unemployment and what they can do to help.”

In addition to securing one of the nation’s highest ranks, Tilley also operates two successful small businesses.

Notes from Tilley’s Presentation:

Transition Correctly:
-Communicate and Educate
-Translate Military Capability into Civilian World
-Appreciate the Value of Your Experience

Define Your Goals:
-Post Military Employment- have realistic expectations
-Potential Relocation- perform a cost of living analysis
-Continuing Education- always an option and sometimes a requirement

Four Steps to Prepare:
-Assess Current Situation
-Define Goals
-Create Written Plan
-Execute Plan

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