I Really Don’t Know…
You don’t know, what you don’t know.
At least that’s how the saying goes. I guess that is true, to an extent. People say ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ All this means is that someone, somewhere, has likely experienced the same issue you are going through right now and they already created a solution for it.
While this is good news, it is possible that the solution may be of no use because you still don’t know how to find and access that solution.
I discovered there were things I really didn’t know as I went through my transition in 2012. It was a real shock to me, but I soon realized how sheltered my life was while I was in uniform. I mean nearly everything was provided for me while I was in the Army – medical insurance, specialist for my special needs child, and dental insurance. I didn’t even have to worry about my wardrobe.
I wasn’t clueless or helpless, the truth is the military has created an automated system that requires very little assistance from the Service Member in order to function properly. We fill out a two page form and our family’s medical insurance is immediately in effect – Primary Doctor assigned based on first letter of your last name.
Ok, maybe not that simple, but close. My daughter was diagnosed during her infant screening with Sickle Cell Disease so she was enrolled into the Exceptional Family Members Program. Once this information was annotated in her medical record, her Specialist Doctor was identified to us during medical in-processing at the health care facilities at every follow-on duty station we were assigned to.
While we appreciated the seamless transfer of her care from place to place and the proactive nature of the military health care system, this made transition quite an educational journey as we learned which medical plan best fit our daughter’s needs – TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Standard. Not to mention how much it would cost for annual premium fees, co-pay costs, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
This may seem like something fairly easy to overcome, and it was. But pile this on top of trying to translate 20+ years of military experience into civilian-friendly terminology, building a new wardrobe, fine-tuning job-interview skills, relocating a family, adjusting a family budget and sorting out intense emotions tied to transition. Now this fairly simple task becomes a bit overwhelming.
This is where I realized I needed to identify and tap into available resources that would make the process of transitioning a little less overwhelming. In the military, I learned what resources were available and mastered the art of tapping into them. Over time, I became a resource for many of my Soldiers. I knew there had to be a whole new world of resources available to us Veterans in transition.
I was right, there is! The number one resource I discovered was the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more specifically the VA Healthcare Administration that keeps me healthy. I’ve discovered a plethora of Veteran organizations that allow me to be a part of a ‘unit,’ around other former military members who share similar experiences. I always knew networking was important and I’ve been able to master the art of it through clubs and other professional organizations. I’m able to still serve through my connection with religious and non-profit organizations. For organized physical training there are boot camps and other organized fitness classes. And for those areas where special attention is needed specialized coaches are available – from business/career coaches to life coaches to personal stylists to personal trainers. I’ve even found myself volunteering at my daughter’s school to fill my need to help others and mentor young people.
There is no shortage of resources. Begin by identifying your needs then begin your research – and tap, tap, tap into a whole new world of resources. Don’t forget to share with others who may be able to use that resource as well.
Lila Holley is a retired Chief Warrant Officer Four and Combat Veteran of the US Army. After encountering her own emotional challenges during transition after a 22 year career, Lila became a certified Life Coach and is determined to help as many Military Members and Veterans as she can, maneuver through the emotions of transitioning from military life to civilian life. She found that many Service Members struggled with the emotional side of transitioning to civilian life but discovered that not many were talking about it outside of a mental health diagnosis – It’s not always PTSD that makes a Veteran angry. She wants to be that Battle Buddy you can lean on during transition. Lila is also a mother and grandmother. Check out her website at www.lilaholley.com.