Veteran Transition Profile: Wray Gillette

Wray Gillette 205x164

Wray Gillette Coast Guard, E-9, retired

"Write down your goals, personal and financial. Then, write how you'll go about achieving them."

I retired from the United States Coast Guard in February of 1999 after 30 years of military service. I was an E-9 for over half my career and was OIC (Officer in Charge) five times. As OIC, I was responsible for training new Coast Guard recruits and acquired a lot of leadership experience. I really enjoyed sharing my military experiences (good and bad) with my trainees. Although I miss my fellow Coasties, the military imparted a sense of maturity and responsibility in me and I always feel ready to meet any new challenge.

I now work as the Supervisor for the Parking and Traffic Office of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Funny as it is, this is the same college I was attending when I got drafted in 1969. Before my retirement I didn't use any career services, military or civilian. My wife found my position in the newspaper, filled out the application and sent it in for me. I was called for an interview, and was hired that same evening.

My family has made the transition to civilian life very well. We all enjoy the warm weather here in Florida. My wife's family is in Virginia and she'd like to be closer to them, but the swimming pool helps! We're pretty busy with our three kids, ages 12, 11 and 6. We attend a lot of soccer games and of course, NASCAR races here in Daytona. I'm having a blast on my new Harley Sportster. I won it on a local radio station. Rusty Wallace was present when the key I chose (out of 95 possible keys) started the bike. Retired life is wonderful!

The one thing I miss most about the military is the many friendships I've acquired over the past 30 years. I also miss meeting and training new Coasties. I keep in touch with several of my former military colleagues through written correspondence, talking on the telephone and seeing them occasionally. I'm also a Silver Lifetime member of the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA). Unfortunately, I don't attend many functions, as there are none in my area at the present time.

The best advice I can give someone leaving military service is to plan ahead. If you're planning to retire, start planning 10 years in advance. Think about where you want to live and set your goals accordingly. Research the local job and real estate markets. Be aware of the cost of living in your chosen location. Write down your goals, personal and financial. Then, write how you'll go about achieving them. The best form of planning - whether you're retiring or separating - is financial investments. Think about life insurance; get it while you're young. And of course - think of your family!

Compiled by: Barbara Poisson

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Military Transition