Thursday, June 30, 2016

Military Separation & The Transition to Civilian Life

The journey has now begun to transition from military life to civilian life. It is summer of 2014, and we are on the hunt for a place to call home after the military. We make a list of possible places to move: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri. After not finding a place we liked in Florida and running out of time, we decide to try for Georgia since we already live in the state.

We get pre-approved for a mortgage, find the perfect house, and start the offer process. We get a call the next day from our mortgage lender stating the finance company has decided not to give us final approval since neither my husband or I had a job lined up after November when his military contract expired. This was a devastating blow to us and our egos. After many sleepless nights, we decide just to move back home. I thought it would be nice to be so close to my husband's family and have support again. I had this idea in my head that my kids and husband would be so happy to be back with their family and friends. I also have friends in the area because I went to high school there.

On September 30, 2014, we pack up all of our belongings in two U-hauls and the back of my husband's truck and make the fourteen-hour journey back home. I am very hopeful that things will be an easy transition - I mean, I have a Bachelor's degree. I can get a good paying job and pick up with my civilian friends, right?

WRONG! I have to settle for an entry-level job. making $8.50/hr and only part-time. Some weeks I'm lucky to squeeze in 39 hours of work. The company does not offer overtime, but they do offer holiday pay, so I try to work as many holidays as possible. My husband decides he wants to go back to school to become a Diesel Mechanic. He starts school mid-October 2014. Things are going okay. He finds a part-time job for now and we are making it. November rolls around and his final paycheck from the military does not show up. We are now strapped for cash and must borrow from friends. I work as much as possible at my job, and my husband does the same. Life becomes really hard, and Christmas doesn't look so good for the kids. We wiped our savings out moving halfway across the U.S. We get lucky - some friends give us loans, and we are adopted by a friends' friend.

The military finally pays us the last check just a day or two before Christmas so we can buy the kids a few things and pay rent for the following month. We continue struggling to scrape money together until tax time. In the meantime, I get two raises and a promotion. I now make $12.25 an hour and am working full time. My husband is still going to school three nights a week and has now found a full-time job working the night shift. We are fighting more and more frequently, and I'm seriously contemplating divorce. Once again, I try to hang on and just immerse myself in work and the kids.

During this time, our oldest has some major medical issues that arise, compounding the stress of in lives. We continue to work and fight, but we are starting to be able to save a bit. We continue this life until the end of August, when I'm on the verge of a nervous break down. I get assaulted at work. I decide I can no longer live like this and resign my position. Our marriage starts to improve a bit, and I no longer feel like I want to run away from life. I find an amazing opportunity with a drastic pay increase. It is a full-time position, and it is an amazing stepping stone for what my future goals are. I take the job. Life has its ups and downs but is generally going well. We are able to purchase a home finally and have started rebuilding our savings.

I had always heard the first year or so after leaving the military will either make or break you. It, so many times, almost broke us beyond repair. However, with increasing communication and a willingness to not give up, we are making it and taking it day by day. Know you're not alone and the struggle is real, but you can make it if you're fully committed to making it work!

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