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April 13, 2016

How the VCN Can Help You Transition from the Military

Our men and women in the military face unique challenges throughout their term of service. From moving every few years to deployments to unpredictable work schedules, the military expects a lot. Over time, service members grow accustom to the routine. This creates a challenge when transitioning from the military to civilian life. The juxtaposition of two very different lifestyles in combination with the uncertainty can be a lot for anyone to take.

That’s why at the Virtual Counselor Network, we partner with specialized military counselors. While our counselors support military men and women throughout all stages of their lives, today we wanted to focus on assistance tailored to service members transitioning to civilian life.

The military provides reliable income, healthcare, and housing stipends or lodging. Moving into civilian life, there are not always stable income sources or guaranteed health benefits. This is an adjustment. Added to the mix is that the average military family has 7% higher unsecured debt and has 16% fewer tangible assets than civilian families according to a recent survey done for National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

Each branch of the military offers incredible resources through their Transition Assistance Program (TAP). This free counseling helps individuals identify how to cross over their skills learned in the military for civilian jobs, financial planning, and seminars.

Due to the gravity of the challenges transitioning, often times service members need additional support throughout the change. Which is where leveraging the power of the VCN can come in. We have several partners who specialize in serving military members.

One of our VCN partners helps to fill the gaps service members find during their transition. Springboard is a nonprofit consumer credit management agency. Their USA Care Military certified staff specializes in helping individuals successfully enter civilian life. They target the two most pressing issues through their financial education services and housing counseling. Financial coaching helps individuals and families adopt a budget that allows them to adjust to their new financial situation. Often times, civilian jobs don’t equate to the full salary individuals saw while in the military. Many veterans face underemployment. Even if the salary is technically higher, the overall can still be less than the military salary once health benefits and housing stipends are factored in.

Living on a budget becomes even more important.

Overall, Springboard counselors help individuals and families create a manageable plan and give them tools to better understand their finances. Through their financial coaching, Springboard counselors help families determine lifestyle changes to live within their current means. This includes action steps toward paying down debt.

The second big issues they help transitioning families address is housing. 

Like so many things, housing after service can be a stressor. Moving every few years creates difficult situations. Some military families own homes in different cities or even multiple homes across the US. The strain of the mortgage with reductions in salary is scary. Springboard helps connect families to military specific programs to help keep the home, pay the mortgage, and more.

For individuals or families looking to move toward homeownership, Springboard counselors help veterans build a solid plan to achieve their goal. They advise making the decision slowly, not moving too quickly, and avoiding overcommitting on a home outside of their budget.

While these are the main challenges with transitioning to civilian life, they aren’t the only ones. If you are currently serving in the military or have served and are looking for help with any of life’s transitions, contact the VCN today. We provide free resources with experienced counselors to assist you with all areas of your life. For specific military life-related questions, we will connect you with USA Care Military certified agencies.