All good things come to an end
A neighbor friend and I sat down to discuss Wake Up, Kick Ass, Repeat over some coffee and beautiful Okinawan sunshine. We agreed that the stories shared by Dr. Lowe were so relatable and listed off who several of the stories reminded us of in our neighborhood. We talked about our experiences with spouse courses on stress management and how having someone teach those courses who's "been there done that" makes them so much more impactful. She made an observation about how this book should be taught by people who have been trained in processes and tools Dr. Lowe recommends rather than either read alone or covered in a book club. "It is a lot of info to track from beginning to end and a lot of pieces to put, and keep together, that it really does need someone trained" she said.
My friend has a point for sure. I found myself flipping back to the first chapter several times to review the A, B, C's and Life Cycle stages referenced throughout. I can certainly see how if you didn't take a dedicated, studious approach that these valuable tools wouldn't take root as Dr. Lowe hopes. This book is so new that maybe that is something Dr. Lowe has coming to us! I hope so because it really would take this to the next level.
Near and dear to my heart
We then discussed the final chapter because my friend knew it probably plucked my heart strings. "There is a need for a stronger support network to help a military family's transition to civilian life" pg. 212. I couldn't agree more! When I was transitioning out of the Navy, I had a plan that I'd been working on for almost two years at that point. I was not only ready; I was prepared. I'd done all of the long hours of reflection on who I was and who I wanted to be, what I wanted my life to look like from then on. A lot of self-guided, soul-deep searching. The US Merchant Marine Academy and the Navy had taken me and molded my identity according to their values, culture, traditions, and needs but I knew that in the "real" world I would need to be the sole owner of my identity again.
This is where the current system misses the mark. The week-long Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is an excellent "how to" when it comes to creating your digital civilian footprint, what forms to file with whom for disability, and how to ace a resume and interview to help you get hired...but if you have no idea who you are, or what you may want to do, all that information will go in one ear and out the other. I sat next to a young airmen in my TAP class who was separating due to force reduction requirements. The Air Force was what he'd staked his future on, it was his ticket out of Iowa, and there he was having to wrap his brain around being out of his planned future in less than six months. He wasn't the only one in the room with overwhelmed, yet blank at the same time, eyes trained on every instructor.
And these service members were there alone, their families were back home waiting to hear what they'd learned because there isn't a program for family members to attend. At least not yet, they are sort of working on it (Check out this link). Say What?!?! No program for spouses?? A 2018 "Military Family Lifestyle Survey reported that 47 percent of veteran military spouses indicated transitioning to civilian life was 'difficult' or 'very difficult.' [and] in many ways, transitioning into civilian life may be even more stressful for military families than reflected by current research" pg. 213. We won't even go into the lack of programs for military children who are absolutely affected at all ages by the transition from the military. That program isn't even on the horizon.
I know several families who are making the transition to civilian life this year. Their stories are all so similar: Where will we live? Should I go back to work? What will I do? Do I even like what I used to do? Do you think there will be other prior military families in the neighborhood we choose? How are our kids going to take this change? Where are we heading in life after the military? What does it look like 40 years down the road? I don't know if my spouse knows who they are without boots and cammies on anymore.
These questions, and the feelings around them, require so much more than a nice suit, a LinkedIn profile, and an updated resume. More than VA claims and USA Jobs accounts. These are soul-deep, identity questions that no career counselor can guide you through. It's absolutely a journey you must take with your spouse (and children once at home) to begin to cultivate your new roots in the civilian world with your military service, and the lessons and skills learned from it, serving as the soil in which you'll flourish. This is a journey you need a coach for. A coach will be there with you as you work through those deep searching questions, emotions, and fears. They'll be there to look with you into your life's telescope to 40 years from now to see what it looks like and help you start to figure out how to get there.
Let me be your coach
I'm here for you. My door is open no mater where you are in the world thanks to video technology. I currently offer one-on-one coaching and couple coaching for anyone making any big life transition. Later this month I will have a whole "Master Your Life Transition" packet and program coming out! I am thrilled to be offering this to a community that is close to my heart because I was you and I see people like you every day. Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how I can serve you on your road to a successful life transition.