You've served your country. Now what? Civilian life can be a challenging transition, especially financially. For veterans easing their way back into civilian life, many resources are available to help them with the financial aspects of life outside the military.
From finding your next job to dealing with credit card debt (or other types of debt) to going back to school to finding assistance during a financial emergency, we have tips and resources to help you successfully make your way into civilian life.
For many veterans, one of the most challenging aspects about the transition into civilian life is finding employment. With the veteran unemployment rate higher than the civilian one, it can be intimidating.
First, there is the need to translate your hard-earned skills to civilian employers. In your resumes and cover letters, focus on how your military experience makes you a great employee for any company. After all, you've already demonstrated loyalty, an ability to think on your feet in fast-changing situations, and you very likely have specialized skills that are much in demand in many industries. Focus on making your skills understandable to the civilian audience: take out military language and acronyms. On LinkedIn, you can see how other veterans are presenting their skills and reach out to them
Beyond USAJobs, many resources exist to help connect veterans to jobs such as Military.com's veteran jobs section.
Finally, consider starting your own company. SCORE is a nationwide organization that links entrepreneurs to mentors, and they have special resources dedicated to veterans. You're eligible to receive free financial advice from a CPA, scholarships for business workshops, and sessions with mentors to guide you to small business success.
For those interested in pursuing higher education, the GI bill provides two options. The Montgomery Bill allows service members to enroll with a $100 fee for 12 months, and you are eligible for up to 36 months of benefits, up to 10 years after active service. Benefits are paid directly to you.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is similar, but tuition and fees are paid directly to the university, while housing allowance and stipend funds are paid to the student. The Bill covers up to 36 months of benefits, up to 15 years after active service.
To find out more about the GI bill, see our detailed article here.
Veterans also face the challenge of receiving the benefits they are rightfully due from Veteran Affairs. Long, bureaucratic delays hamper veterans' abilities to successfully transition into civilian life. If you are a veteran who finds yourself struggling to pay the bills after your service, resources also exist to help out in any situation. Here are a few:
The American Legion provides cash grants for children of service members as financial assistance for emergency aid.
Operation First Response and The Coalition to Salute American Heroes are both organizations that provide financial assistance for veterans. They take into account individual needs and situations, so if you're facing utility shutoffs, foreclosure, or eviction, they can provide help.
USA Cares is an organization that helps keep veterans in their homes. According to their website, they have allocated $10 million in grants to support veterans who face a range of problems from unemployment to foreclosure to PTSD.
Disabled American Veterans is an organization geared towards those who have become disabled in their duty. They have 100 offices around the U.S., and they help provide a wide range of services for disabled vets, ranging from applications for services to education to home loan guarantees.
No matter what your financial needs are, resources exist to help connect veterans to organizations and services.
Fiona Lee is a personal finance writer for ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. She is a frugalista who loves discovering new ways to save money, especially in expensive cities. After living in New York and Beijing, she now makes her home in San Francisco. You can follow @ReadyForZero and @moderntime on Twitter.
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