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Civilian life 101

Military members considering leaving the military to pursue a career in the civilian sector can contact the Airmen and Family Readiness Center for further information at 605-385-4663. (Courtesy photo)

Military members considering leaving the military to pursue a career in the civilian sector can contact the Airmen and Family Readiness Center for further information at 605-385-4663. (Courtesy photo)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Some Airmen have served for four years, some have served more than 20. One thing all Airmen have in common is: a plan for the future. Thinking about separating is something that is on the minds of all whose careers in the Air Force draw closer to their conclusion.

One of the best resources is those who have done it before.

“Making a plan is crucial to separating from the Air Force,” said Karie Skidmore, the 28th Bomb Wing chief of protocol.
Skidmore, a retired Senior Master Sgt., had to go through this process just a couple years ago. She described different ways that you have to prepare, and how it’s about transitioning a whole life, not just a job.

“You know your separation date is coming and should give yourself ample time to prepare for you and your families future,” said Skidmore.

Planning for the future also means being ready financially. Keeping an eye on a budget is essential when opening a new chapter in life. The Airmen and Family Readiness Center is a place Airmen go to get financial help.

“We help Airmen who are planning to separate by helping them make a yearlong budget,” said Jennifer Johnson, an AFRC work life specialist. “When they get out they can have an idea of what they are going to need to live. You should be planning for civilian life when you join the military. You know you’re going to get out eventually so it never hurts to be prepared early.”

The military and the civilian sectors have aspects that differentiate one another, but one thing that is valuable in both is education.

“Taking advantage of the benefits given to you while you’re in the military in is important to your success on the outside,” Johnson said. “Education is near the top of the list of things for those who are separating and how it’s going to benefit them once they get out.”

Along with education, there are many more benefits offered by the Veterans Administration. Airmen who are getting out of the Air Force are recommended to see what they have to offer.

“Definitely check out what the VA has for you as far as benefits go,” Johnson said. “They have so many different things for different people. They are a really good resource for anyone who is planning on separating from the military.”

The Transition Assistance Program was put into action by congress back in 2011 so military members can be more prepared for civilian life. Johnson is an instructor for the program and is happy to help Airmen who are separating plan for their future.

“TAPs really helps Airmen who are trying to separate,” Johnson said. “We offer a budgeting class, a transition workshop, career exploration planning, an education workshop and we even offer a course to help those who want to open a small business.”

The Air Force is trying to aid in giving Airmen a smooth transition into civilian life, helping set Airmen up to give them the best chance outside of the military.

“It doesn’t matter if you served four, 20 or even 30 years,” Skidmore said. “You served your country and it’s a noble thing. The Air Force has given you direction and hopefully it will help you as a civilian. I know it helped me.”

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