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Terminal leave, now often referred to as transitional leave, is the type of leave service members accrue before they transition out of the military. It's tempting to use your leave liberally while in the service, but saving terminal leave can make your transition smooth and even enjoyable. Many service members are very careful about saving up their maximum allotment of 60 days of terminal leave, but spending that time wisely is another trick altogether.
Successful transitions don't happen once you leave the military; they start months, even years, in advance.
Make Time for Yourself
The life of a service member is fraught with stress, hard work and peril, so it's a good idea to take a few weeks of transitional leave for yourself. Whether you want to travel, make time for loved ones or vacation somewhere, it's important to decompress and relax. Transitioning out of the military can be a major life change for service members, and breaking up the continuous line of stress from service to transition to civilian life is important.
There are a lot of potential options for housing once you leave the service, but no matter what you pursue, you need to have a plan before you take your first steps as a veteran. It's possible your family will take you back in and let you start afresh in your old room, but for those who don't have that option, securing housing is a matter of figuring out where you want to live and calculating what arrangements you can afford.
Sixty days may seem like a lot, but apartment and house hunting can take longer than two months, so it's better to use your terminal leave to chase down the most promising leads and finalize a deal. Even if you have a contract in place, moving is time-consuming and stressful. Think of it this way: Would you rather spend your last days kicking your feet up in a new place, or frantically browsing classifieds?
Begin Your New Career
The civilian job market is a wild, tangled world that isn't easy to navigate. You need the right training, certifications and connections. Just as with housing, career planning should happen well before your terminal leave even starts. Those 60 days are best used to set dates for job interviews, not search for job listings. If your plan includes obtaining a job certificate or degree, terminal leave is best used to buy school supplies and sign up for classes, not debating which school you'd like to attend.
- Max terminal leave is 60 days except for emergencies.
- Use terminal leave to finish projects, not to formulate them.
- Take time to relax.
- Make sure you know your precise start and end dates.
- Maximize military benefits while you still have them.
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