From Arthur Howard, St. Paul, MN
Sergeant, U.S. Army, Petroleum Supply Specialist, Stationed in Germany. Deployed to Iraq. Now works at the VA in Minneapolis.
Set some goals--short-term and long-term.You've already succeeded at one of the hardest jobs you'll likely ever have to do, now think about what you want to do next. Think about life after the military. Meet with your local Veterans Benefit Counselor to see what benefits are out there for you. Go to school using the Post/911 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, or the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
When I got out of the Army in 2004, I was a bit scared as I'd been taken care of the last 6 years meaning I didn't have to worry about money, not because I was making a boat load of it, but because if I ran out I knew I had a place to lay my head down (barracks) and food to eat. So for me getting out of the Army meant I had to grow up and do it all on my own. Uncle Sam was no longer there to bail me out.
What worked for me was applying the skills I gained in the Army, which didn't come from the trade (work) I did in the Army but the other stuff we all learn. Like that I can do anything attitude, dedication, respect, discipline, and of course the all famous "Suck it up and DRIVE ON." These were all things I lacked before joining the Army, but came out knowing nothing else.
As I still wanted to be challenged and knew I wanted to continue public service in some way. I set a short-term goal of getting my Bachelor degree and a long-term goal of becoming a Director/Senior Executive within the Federal Government. So I headed back to school and surpassed my short-term goal by obtaining a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Human Relations.
However, I haven't stopped there. It must be that "I can do anything" attitude, or "do it better" attitude that has motivated me to go further. I start a Doctoral Program in Organizational Leadership this March 2010.
I can say without a doubt that my service in the Army and education gave me a huge advantage when searching for a federal job. I currently work at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and I'm well on my way to obtaining my long-term goal.