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Your Career

Retirement Tips for Those Jumping Ship

Things to know before retiring

1. Most important, start living like you are retired at least 10 - 12 months out. Estimate your retirement pay and live on that, put the remainder away in savings. This way you can ease your way into the lower income and you can start a pattern of lifestyle early vice be thrust into it.

2. Don't be afraid to retire. About 5 years prior, you may feel like retirement is "the end." It's not. It's a beginning of something new that you are really well prepared for through your years in the military.

3. Tap Tap Tap. Goes at least a few years prior to your anticipate retirement, and then go again 10 months prior, because it is overwhelming your first class. After a few months following the class you will realize questions you have - write them down. Then at your second class you will be far more relaxed and ready to ask more. No excuses - go.

4. You take care of so many others throughout your career and often forget yourself or pay little attention. Well, you have everyone permission to take care of yourself too. And preparing for retirement and transition to civilian life is imperative!

5. Start your VA paperwork early - 6 months out. You may need a single side copy of your medical record for VFW/DAV (whoever you are using to review) so be ready. I was busy so I had Staples do it (making it one sided is quite tedious), it was worth the $120 to me. Once that was done, you can more easily do a copy of that one on your own.

6. Reach out to those you know who have recently retired. Have lunch or such and have them go over some things they learned.

7. Start planning a retirement ceremony at least a year out. Doesn't have to be completely planned a year out, but at least start talking about it. Don't pass this opportunity to share a good time, and thank those in your life who helped you reach this point. It is important for you, and them, to have this transition point - to turn the Navy over to the Sailors you have trained and led, and to embrace your civilian side.

8. Start talking with your PSD about 10 months out about what your final leave/transit etc., days will equal so you have time to take leave needed to balance out. I stayed on top of this each month so I knew I could take a week over the holidays and still have plenty for terminal to get settled.

9. Really Really Really try to take at least a month to yourself (and family) before going right into a civilian job if you are choosing to. Having some down time is so important to gather thoughts, shape your home life as needed and reward yourself for all of your work.

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Graphic for Transition GPS.

Graphic for Transition GPS.

And other retirees have weighed in on the conversation:

Maggie Arriola: Make sure you have all your medical conditions documented in your record, and make copies of your medical record for yourself.

William Whittington: Develop a job search strategy NOW. Looking for a job is a learned skill that takes focus and discipline. Apply to different jobs and learn to tailor your resume to each position. The more you apply, the more comfortable you'll be. Being a Vet is no longer a novelty. Several thousand Vets have flooded the job market. Refine what makes you stand out. Get on LinkedIn and hone your profile. Build your network and reach out for guidance. Practice looking, applying and interviewing for jobs while you still have one.

Antonio Soto: If possible, request T-GPS near where you plan to retire. I was stationed in Norfolk, but requested a class in Great Lakes where I planned to retire. It made all the difference.

John David: If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, get seen for it. Take pictures, save everything, take more pictures. Also, if you tell most places you were a chief, they will ask you what tribe you were with.

Evangelist Taylor: Get all your medical information in order a year out. Scope the job market and industry you'd like to work in. Take it from me, it is hard coming out of the military after 20 years with a lot of skills and education but not knowing where you want to live or what you want to do.

Gwen Wallmark: pay off credit cards and save as much as possible to cover monthly expenses for a year. Start building a civilian wardrobe one year out to take advantage of end of season sales.

Jim Dennison: You don't know as much as you think you do. The civilian mindset and culture is the majority, few business owners will hire someone as a manger that has no civilian business management experience. The CPO mentality for getting a job done can in some circumstances be a bad thing when most of the people in the civilian professional world may not even know what a CPO is.

Sherry Philyaw: If you really like the military way of life, retire near a base and get a job there. I retired too far away from a base. Take lots of pictures! Document everything! Get a degree, most jobs require it. Don't wish the last years of your Navy career away, it will go fast and you will miss it.

Philip Vyce: Get into Fleet & Family Support Center and begin a conversation with the employment educator. They will be a huge asset in building a resume. Then get with the financial educator and go over exactly where you are with your money now so you can develop a strategy to pay off your debt before you retire.
Graphic on Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Graphic on Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Dave Harris: Check into VA benefits from the State government. Some of them are quite substantial.
Mike Rich: Beware of the tax man!

James Bursley: Understand your first job may not pay what you expect, but it gets your foot in the door. Document your medical and dental and retire with as little debt as possible.

Kevin Bryars: Make sure you know your obligation date to transfer GI Bill benefits to your dependents.

Tara Geuy: Learn how to understand civilian healthcare/dental; from appointments to claims to understanding who to choose as a provider and how. This was my biggest issue. Thank God I have the VA as well or I'd be in trouble. It was all very confusing to me.

Paul Ross: Start your resume, get your degree, go to T-GPS ... then go again, make business cards, make two copies of your medical record, make sure your service record is complete!

Michelle Petersen: Get your medical and dental issues fixed before leaving the military. Dental is insanely expensive in the civilian world, even with insurance.

Ron Moore: Keep your life insurance going, and maintain several copies of your DD-214

Curtis Cox: Make sure anything you were seen for during active duty gets documented on your separation physical.

Doug Haynes: If you don't have SGLI, get it. Once you are out, it is too late. It is cheap compared to the outside world. You have 240 days to convert it to VGLI. Once out, you no longer have access to CAC, so a lot of online service will no longer be available. Be prepared.

Bret Wright: Do not lose your DD-214, ever! And make sure your family has a copy as well.

Mike Shaunessy: TA, TA, TA! Use your TA!

Michael Ellis: Be mentally prepared to live a life less adventurous and working a job less important than you have during your Navy career.

Dewayne Bates: Work harder to become more technical. I know it sounds bad, but no one is hiring "Senior Chiefs." Take the last couple of years and get your hands dirty. Don't just get stuck behind a desk.

For more information on retirement, visit the VA.
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