Easing the Transition from a Military to a Civilian Career

Easing the Transition from a Military to a Civilian Career 

By: Phillip Thornton 

Transitioning from a structured military life to the civilian workforce is a significant change that is often met with uncertainty and frustration. For transitioning Service members, the process can feel overwhelming with endless options, possibilities, and decisions to make, often leading to decision fatigue. When mental fatigue and frustration set in, so does stress 

It is often extremely hard for Service members to translate and adjust their military duties into civilian terms so that they can enter the civilian workforce. Magellan Federal helps deliver the Education and Employment Initiative (E2I), which has a wonderful model of support to ease the transition. Here are some tips our E2I coordinators often give to ease the transition to a civilian career. 

Tips for Transitioning to the Civilian Workforce

  • Do not have visions of grandeur facilitated by the “Thank You for your Service” effect. This does not guarantee employment. While your Service is a unique differentiator, the job market is very competitive. 
  • Start the transition process early. It is recommended that you start your planning 18 months to 2 years before the end of service. Make your transition the number one priority. 
  • Knowledge is power. Thoroughly research career information resources. This information will help you make the best career choice for yourself and your family. 
  • Avoid the chatter. Do not get caught up in conversations with military peers or leadership who know as little as you do about transitioning to the civilian workforce.  
  • Know your value. Do what has always made you successful. Work hard, make a plan, and execute your plan. There is always a need for quality, hardworking, and dependable professionals.  
  • Adjust your military duties into civilian terms. Put in the work to translate your resume to skills and abilities that resonate with the civilian workforce. Reach out to civilian friends and family to network and get advice. 
  • Take advantage of transition resources. If you are assigned to a warrior transition unit or are going through a medical board, take advantage of the Employment and Education Initiative (E2I) program.  

The E2I Program

The Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) is a Department of Defense (DOD) program that assists wounded, ill, and injured service members early in their recovery process to identify their skills and match them with the education and career opportunities that will help them successfully transition to civilian life.  E2I is available to all wounded, ill, and injured service members in all branches of the military services, as well as all components of those services: Active, Guard and Reserve.  

E2I Regional Coordinators are located throughout the United States. These individuals work with wounded, ill, and injured service members to identify skills, career opportunities that match those skills, and determine educational requirements for a desired career path.  

Even if you are not able to participate in the E2I program, your military experience can serve as a wonderful foundation for a successful civilian career. 

About the Author

Phillip ThorntonPhillip Thornton (PT), is a retired Army Medical Services Officer and has worked as the Recovery Coordination Program, Executive Officer and Program Lead for the Education and Employment Initiative and Operation Warfighter programs for more than 10 years. He has extensive experience assisting recovering Service members and their families. He has assisted hundreds of wounded warriors in recovery and transitioning to new careers or opportunities in the civilian sector. He has knowledge and working relationships with all Military Services, Federal Agencies, and Federal employers across the United States that have led to successful internships and employment opportunities that positively impact the rehabilitation process.