Editor’s note: The following article was contributed by Marine Corps Community Services. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length. Find more at http://www.usmc-mccs.org/.
Transitioning from the military involves more than just the service member ― it affects the whole family.
Here are some tips to help military spouses navigate through a separation.
1. Find help at your installation. Many installations have resources in place for exactly this situation. For example, through the Marine Corps you can attend Spouse Transition and Readiness Seminars, also called STARS, three-hour sessions with subject matter experts to help answer your transition-related questions. Other service branches have different resources available to spouses. Find out what the options are at your installation.
2. Start planning for your professional transition. If the demands and frequent moves that came with your spouse’s military career forced you to put your own aspirations on hold, now may be your chance to get back to them. What are your post-separation goals? Do you want to pursue a career in a new field, get a degree, start your own business? If you aren’t sure what you want to do after your service member’s transition, complete a self-assessment, such as the Kuder Journey or O*Net Interest Profiler to help you decide. If you are considering entrepreneurship, attend a session of Boots to Business, a 2-day, Small Business Administration course that can teach you about evaluating business concepts, developing a business plan, finding start-up funding and more.
3. With your spouse, determine where you want to live. Do you want to remain close to base? Move back home to be near family? Discover an entirely new place? This choice will impact other decisions you and your spouse will have to make, so it’s a good idea to make this one of the first items you decide on.
4. Start planning for your children’s transition. If you have small children, check out Sesame Street for Military Families: Transitions for tools to help you help your child understand how your transition to civilian life affects them. Research schools and child care in the area.
5. Get ready medically. Did you know you can get an electronic copy of your medical records? Create a secure eBenefits account to manage your information. And don’t forget about the kids. It’s a great idea to stop by their doctor’s office to obtain copies of their most recent physicals and make sure their immunizations are up to date.
6. Get ready legally. Ensure your legal documents are updated. It’s a great time to look through paperwork and get organized. Your installation may have legal resources available as well.
7. Get your savings account ready. There are often expenses associated with the transition to civilian life. The more you have saved, the easier and less stressful it will be when those costs pop up. Keep in mind that your family may experience a period of unemployment for you, your spouse or both of you.