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My Military to Civilian Transition Summary

Since my military to civilian transition spanned the better part of 18 months, I thought it might be convenient to recap everything on one post now that I've made the transition. If I can impress only one thing on you active duty folks who might read this: Make absolutely certain that you apply for your VA disability benefits before you separate. It's worth the effort, and proving service connection for "what's wrong with you" only gets more difficult the longer you've been out of the military.

So here are the posts that detail what I went through during my separation from the Air Force, from start to finish. It was kind of rough at times, feeling like that kid who never got picked to play on a team in grade school gym class. But you know what? It turns out that I'm happier and healthier now that I'm out of the military than I ever was while I was in. No more constantly worrying about getting RIF'd or deployed or getting the right medal or OPR ranking. And yet, I still get to travel the world and have a new job every couple of years that will still give me the option to retire with benefits at a relatively young age. Win-win.

But there is one nagging detail: The VA Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits as currently written does not clearly extend to those service members separated from the military because they were passed over for promotion, even though it does extend to those who were forced out under different programs. I think this is unfair and drafted a petition that caught the eye of Change.org's staff who contacted me to help get the word out.

My Military to Civilian Transition Experience, in chronological order:
  1. Initial Warning Signs: Administrative Gremlins is about learning that my last OPR wasn't in the folder that met the promotion board (even though I was told that it was).
  2. Considering My Options: Foreign Service Officer is about looking for other ways to serve abroad and leverage all that federal service time towards retirement.
  3. One Last Chance: Up or Out is about when my appeal to the promotion board was denied.
  4. A talk with the Colonel about my Future, when the odds are stacked against your promotion above the zone.
  5. Considering My Options: USAID casts the net wide, and takes into consideration why you should stay until the end of your service commitment.
  6. The (Above the Zone) Promotion Board Meets behind closed doors. Don't stress about things beyond your control.
  7. The Promotion Board Field Message gives you a method to get a general sense of the promotion rates.
  8. Date of Separation Established This may happen to you. Stay positive.
  9. Final Out-Processing Lesson learned the hard way: Make absolutely sure that AFPC updates your active duty service commitment date in their system before you separate (during out-processing), as it will literally take months to correct through the Board of Military Records Correction. The VA can't do much for you if your branch of service gives them the wrong info.
  10. The Next Sortie: My New Career I made a successful transition and so can you. 
  11. I am a Veteran Your service is valued, and something to take pride in.
  12. Understanding your VA Disability Rating and Separation Pay
For more information on joining the Department of State from the military, check out:
I also created a label for Military-to-Civilian transition that you may see on future posts, so that should provide you with everything I've written on the subject..

If you're looking for books about transitioning out of the military, these are useful too:

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