It’s never too early to start planning for the future. And as a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, you’ve got incredible opportunities in the G.I. Bill and related programs. Invest in yourself with a strong education that complements the skills you’ve already developed as an active servicemember, and there’ll be no limit on how far you can go.
But returning to life outside of the military also means that you’re in for some big changes, just as you were when you entered the service. You’re leaving behind not only a job, but also an entire culture and way of daily life. For many, this adjustment can be a bit of a struggle at a crucial juncture of their lives.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of websites to help you, the soon-to-be-vet, prepare for life after the military. From educational resources, to school and career planning, to simply transitioning back into civilian life, we hope that you’ll find here all the tools for future success.
There’s a wealth of data available on official government and supportive sites alike. For some of the most reliable information related to servicemembers, check out the recommendations below:
With a detailed guide of G.I. Bill benefits, extensive FAQs, and a step-by-step walkthrough on making your military background work for you as a student, Military.com is a good place to start thinking about — and planning — your future education. For quick and easy answers on complex topics, check out the “Most Popular” posts along the right sidebar.
Much like Military.com’s section above, the homepage of the G.I. Bill contains all the tools you need to move your education forward. You can compare universities and programs, find career counseling, and even apply for veteran’s benefits online. You’ll also have access to official forms, news updates, and a collection of interesting background history on the Bill itself.
Short, sweet, and to the point, this page is a collection of links to topics like benefits, education, and job-seeking resources — most of which are located on the VA’s own website. So while light on detailed info of its own, it makes for a great jumping-off point when exploring your future options. And be sure to sign up for email updates while you’re here!
If you’re on Facebook, be sure to “Like” the official page of the G.I. Bill. Veterans and soon-to-be-veterans alike can take advantage of the extensive FAQs and info database here, and enjoy a feed of relevant news from your computer or mobile device. With frequent updates, and plenty of opportunities for discussion and problem solving, it’s perhaps the easiest and most fun way to stay in the loop.
The official blog of the U.S. Department of Education features a huge array of education-related subjects, and promotes a healthy dialogue in the comments section of each. But there are a few in particular that we really feel are worth a look. Use the link above to filter updates by the “veterans” tag, and you’ll see posts offering up advice on topics like careers and financial aid.
Education and knowing what resources are available to you is a great place to start. While you’re learning about the benefits of the programs above, seek inspiration from those who have been in your shoes:
On the fence about whether college is really the right choice for you? While going back to school is by no means the only way to find future success, the fact remains that doing so gives you an incredible leg up. Find some inspiration — a take a look at our own post on celebrities whose incredible careers were kick-started with a little post-military education.
Also found on the VA’s website is a collection of personal stories shared by former servicemembers, each one documenting how they’ve achieved lifelong educational goals — both for themselves and for those close to them. Discover how other new veterans continued to excel in every aspect of post-military life. And who knows — you might just find yourself back here soon to share your own tale!
Through creative use of public media, veterans around the country are sharing the stories of how they coped with exiting the military and adjusting to civilian life once more. We’d encourage all returning servicemembers to take a look at how their fellow men and women in uniform are making great things happen. And while very useful and inspiring to newly-minted vets like yourself, these thought-provoking pieces are also excellent for sharing with friends and family members, with whom you might have struggled to explain certain experiences in an effective way. After all, empathy can be a huge part of a successful support network.
Managing money is difficult in everyday life. For servicemembers, it’s important to save as well as take advantage of the programs offered to you that allow you to save even more:
U.S. Veteran’s Magazine has compiled an impressive list of financial aid opportunities available not only to military veterans, but also to their spouses and children. By writing out the specific qualifications for each program, they make it easy to figure out which ones you want to apply to and which ones aren’t relevant. There are countless scholarships out there, making it all the more helpful to have a guide that lays out this sort of information.
Military.com also features a tool for locating scholarships, grants, and other means of monetary relief for military vets. You might be surprised at how easy it is to fund your education as a veteran. There are countless prospects out there for financial aid — it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.
Heading back to school means buying new supplies and sticking to a budget — but don’t forget to have some fun, too! As a college or university student, you’ll be eligible for a huge assortment of discounts and freebies, including everything from reduced-price laptops to free or discounted admission to theme parks. Christian Science Monitor has put together a list of more than 40 retailers serving up big savings to students, so check it out.
Just as students can take advantage of a wide assortment of curated discounts, so can veterans. Over at the Rather Be Shopping blog, you’ll find an impressive collection of restaurants, retail stores, hotels, and more — all catering to current and former military members. This list is updated frequently, so don’t forget to check back from time to time to see what’s new.
What occupation are you planning to settle into, after your service? What do you want to accomplish? Here are a few sites with career resources meant just for servicemembers:
If you’re not already following the NMFA’s weblog, we’d suggest giving it a look. Here, you’ll find frequent updates touching on the issues facing not only soldiers and veterans, but also their families. Browse by category on the right-hand side, where you’ll find informative posts on education, employment, and the transition back between military and civilian life.
Student Veterans of America’s vision is one of post-secondary education success for all former servicemembers. Through networking events, leadership training, study grants, and national-level advocacy, SVA helps the veterans of today to break down the obstacles on their path to a college degree and meaningful employment. You can get involved by browsing their online chapter directory and finding a location near you.
Army Study Guide is primarily intended for the current servicemember who is looking to study for Basic Training and other qualifications, but they do have a useful section on post-Army career advice. Here, you’ll find food for thought on subjects like applying your military experiences, planning for lifelong success, and interview prep. Although not comprehensive by any means, the info here gives you a place from which to start thinking about your future.
Military Times is an independent military news source, one that publishes the info you need to know as a current or former servicemember. In their dedicated Veteran’s section, you’ll find education-based news, tools for career exploration, and a convenient job search engine specifically made for veterans. There are also a number of free newsletters to which you can subscribe, if desired — each offering a military-oriented take on subjects like careers, education, and money.
The mission of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation is to provide programs and services that support those that leave the military wounded — either physically or psychologically. For veterans and soon-to-be-veterans with disabilities, the DVNF’s blog touches on topics like disability-friendly tech careers and reinvigorating activities — but there’s valuable material here (like job-seeking and interviewing tips) even for the most physically able of vets.
The Real Warriors Campaign — an initiative to provide service members, veterans, and their families with care and support tools — has compiled an excellent guide for taking your military experiences and developing them into an effective civilian resume. They’ll walk you through “de-militarizing” your skills and expertise, framing them in a way that’s more accessible to traditional employers, and will give you tips on excelling in your new workplace. You may even find some brand-new approaches to take in your application that you’d never before considered.
Dedicated to job-seeking vets, Stars & Stripes’ online job center is a listing of job and internship opportunities, all posted by companies interested in the skillset you’ve developed as a member of the military. You’ll also find up-to-date career fair listings in locations around the country, and career-building resources — including a tool to help translate your MOS code to civilian applications.
A collaboration between the VA and Department of Defense (DOD), the online Veteran Employment Center lets you search available opportunities by job title, location, and/or MOS code. The resume-building service helps you to put together an application that’s sure to draw the attention of hiring managers, and the military skills translator helps you understand how your role in the service correlates with the specific skills that employers are looking for.
HireVeterans is another website that’s focused on connecting military veterans with the employers who are seeking their unique abilities and experiences. In addition to searching their extensive database of jobs and career fairs, you can simply create an online profile and allow potential employers to peruse it at their leisure, perhaps even reaching out to you. In fact, with slots for three different copies of your resume, you can even tailor each version to a specific industry and explore several routes at once.
Adapting to new daily routines can be hard. The resources below offer guidance on how to adjust:
There are a number of mental challenges that come with a return to civilian life. For many, the loss of structure and a defined path can be intimidating, and the experiences you’ve undergone have caused you to emerge a very different person from the one that first entered the service. Having a support line is hugely important, and Make The Connection provides the resources to keep you going — and excelling — in your post-military endeavors.
Addressing some of the common myths about post-military life, this short post by former SEAL Jeff Boss is a great read for the freshly minted vet. Be sure to check out a few of the other articles on Task & Purpose as well, as they address a number of additional subjects that will be of both interest and use to the newest generation of veterans.
Hands-on action in the field is a completely different beast from a life of peaceful campuses, calm classrooms, and quiet test-taking. As a returning veteran, most of your student peers might be noticeably younger than you. It’s no small wonder that so many vets struggle a bit to adjust to college. Here, you can read some advice from a former Marine sergeant and current veteran advisor, who lays out what you’ll need to know to succeed as a post-military student.
Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to draw your attention to Vista Military College’s own resource section. We’ve put together an indispensable collection of materials for the soon-to-be-veteran, including everything from overviews on finding the best relevant college programs and military-related financial aid, to long-term career guides.
Your future is full of potential — let’s work together to unlock it all.