By Stephen Moss, founder of MISSION UNITED
The transition from active duty to a civilian member of the society is not the same for everyone. Certain factors such as time in service, military occupation, family situation, and personal life goals are variables that make it difficult to say with any certainty what a military member may appreciate most when they return home. But, with that in mind, we can reflect on the basic needs that anyone may appreciate as part of the general population.
- Career Opportunities A military resume may not read like that of a recent college graduate. Many employers will review a resume and dismiss a Veteran because they “don’t fit the mold” or they don’t have exactly 2.5 years of experience as a Warehouse Manager, sales associate, case manager, etc… It’s understandable why some of these resumes may be filtered out by modern resume search programs, however, most Veterans are highly trainable and quick learners. Veterans appreciate being given a chance at a career opportunity.
- Affordable Housing: The cost of off base housing in most military towns is not high and most communities don’t require outrageously high deposits for military personnel. The difference between an active duty member and a veteran is that the housing communities around bases will go to the command if the active duty military member is delinquent or trashes the place, thus providing them some flexibility with deposits. Military base pay isn’t generally very high and falls short of most private sector positions with similar experience making it difficult to save enough for the first month while transitioning. The difference in pay can grossly affect the veteran’s ability to find a suitable living situation when they separate from service and return to their neighborhoods.
- Support System: Many veterans return to the neighborhoods they came from because they have some established support system. But this is not true for all veterans. Some veterans may have left an area to get away from negativity and other home based issues and they choose to go somewhere else. I was fortunate to have friends and family on my side but knew that was not the case for some of my buddies. I knew that I could leverage my same support network and I did in a few cases to assist my fellow service men and women. We are a prideful bunch sometimes and don’t always like to ask for help so it’s very much appreciated when you know that someone has your back.
- Understanding: Most veterans appreciate when people thank them for their service but we appreciate it even more when they know the difference between branches (USMC=Semper Fi for example). We all have pride in our respective branch and the best way I could describe it is if you’re a Florida State Alumni and someone says to you “Go Gators!” Your immediate reaction would not be pleasant. Another thing with understanding is to understand that not all of us went through the same experiences. We appreciate it when people allow us to drive conversations and not assume that we are all hardened war heroes or that some of us might be and it’s not something we want to discuss for personal reasons.
- Sense of Belonging: At the end of the day we are still people. We want to feel like we belong in the spaces that we are in. Military culture is one of inclusiveness and camaraderie. Often times veterans return to their neighborhoods and feel like an outcast because people around them don’t know what they have been through or assume that they are unstable due to PTSD or other related issues. A welcoming environment is one something most veterans greatly appreciate.