Help for the Big Transition Back to Civilian Life


We have decided to retire from the United States Marine Corps.  (deep breaths …) This is one of those life-altering events that we knew was coming – like giving birth – you know it’s got to come eventually. But now that it’s here, I’ve stalled in an emotional rut somewhere between being terrified and relieved. And just when I start to process and deconstruct our time in the military, whether my kids will resent moving again and just how I can talk my parents into helping us move again, I’ve been told we have to have a retirement ceremony.  (More deep breaths…)

I remember years ago when we were stationed in Kansas we attended the first of many retirement ceremonies.  After a moving speech about being in the Army and how much it meant to serve his nation, the Solider called his rather shocked wife to the stage. He dropped to one knee and presented his wife with a ring. Tears pooled in the collective corners of every single woman in the room while the men secretly fumed at the bar being set – clearly far too high. From nowhere appeared a priest who officiated the renewal of their wedding vows. More tears. More fuming. Another Marine at a different ceremony symbolically turned over his dogtags to his wife.

Now it’s our turn.

Several of our friends are retiring, too. Their Facebook posts chronicle the pensive and final day their Marine will wear a cammy uniform. Many are planning moves back to their hometown – one friend already has purchased their forever home – while others are searching furiously and, hopefully, fruitfully for a job. Over the past decade, my feelings about the Corps have fluctuated wildly between wanting to stay ‘in’ forever, wanting to drop our letter regardless of the implications on our retirement benefits, and wanting to simply make it all the way to 20 years.

We did our 20 years and the proverbial gold watch is ours for the taking.

This scene will play out one million times in one million lives over the next five years. That’s how many servicemembers are expected to enter civilian life. I’m not saying they will all be planning teary retirement ceremonies but soon, reintegration will be the buzzword.

Which is where a new, interactive ebook and website presented by Blue Star Families, NBC Publishing and Vulcan Productions comes into play. It has videos, interactive worksheets and an up-to-date resource section broken down by branch -- and it covers ALL the stages of deployment and reintegration.

Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family and Friends of Service Members During Pre-deployment, Deployment and Reintegration is now available for download from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo and Sony platforms.

“Everyone Serves provides a great starting point for anyone who is or has been affected by a deployment or reintegration. As the wars come to an end, more servicemembers and families are transiting to civilian life, or managing the long-term care of a family member. These are all areas addressed in Everyone Serves, making it an important resource for all military service members, families and friends,” said Bonnie Benjamin-Phariss, Director, Vulcan Productions.

The book is available online here.  It’s not death by PowerPoint or cheesy out-of-date government drivel.  It’s written by military families and shows actual spouses talking about what they did for their kids, and what it’s like caring for a wounded vet and much more.

It’s about time there’s a handbook  …  one place to go to for help, advice or just to remind yourself that you aren’t going through all this transition and reintegration into the civilian world alone.

Molly Blake is a freelance writer based out of Yuma, Az. interested in issues that affect military families including deployments, children’s education, spouse employment and others. She is also managing editor at Blue Star Families. Her work can be found on her website. 

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