Your Self-Transformation Does Not Require Chain of Command Approval

Jason C. Anderson

There is a little-discussed truth about your military transition: The day you walk through that door, no one from your military unit will check up on you to make sure your transition is going well. Think I’m exaggerating? Start asking around.

Here’s my personal experience.

After walking out of the Pentagon on my last day of work in the Summer of 2014, I did not hear a further word from any co-workers in my office, leaders, or otherwise. No emails. No phone call. No texts.

I didn’t take it personally. After a 20-year military career, I was very aware that my role, while important in the organization, was ultimately just to be one small cog in a much larger machine. As that small cog, I fully understood that once my departure finally hit, they would immediately place another butt in my seat and keep on moving out on the mission. That is the nature of a living, breathing organization. It has to be strong and resilient because it must continue functioning even as people inevitably move into
and out of the organization in the normal course of life, deployments, and members PCSing. Which brings me to three very important points regarding your military transition:

  1. You will spend more time out of uniform than you did in uniform. This is not guesswork. According to the most recent 2018 Department of Defense Data, 54.8% of officers and 23.8% of enlisted members retired from the service at any one time. The vast majority of all others leave the military within the first 10 years of service. For those of you who make it a career, the majority retire with 20 to 22 years of service. So, if you do the math, even those who stay through 20 years, who retire aged 38-42, will still have 20+ years to contribute to the workforce and national economy. Not to mention continue making money and saving for retirement.
  2. You are the one ultimately responsible for your transition. While this statement is intuitively obvious, take a moment to think about some of the messaging you are getting within the military ecosystem you are in right now. Despite the need to prepare for such a large life transition, does your supervisor or commander really want to give you the needed time to prepare? Do they want you to divert any of your attention to things that are not mission related? Does this make you feel guilty about wanting to take the time you know you need to prepare?
  3. In that same vein, isn’t it strange that such a big life event comes with so many conditions, caveats, and strings attached? For example, the government’s congressionally mandated transition program requires that you get chain of command approval before you participate in the program. Same thing if you happen to be one of the very few who are in the enviable position to be approved for release by your command to participate in the DoD’s SkillBridge program.

Self-Transformation Does Not Require Chain of Command Approval

Circling back to that statistic provided earlier in the article, you will spend more time out of uniform contributing to the national economy than you did in uniform. Moreover, much of the experience you’ve gained in the military can be a huge benefit to a future employer. So there is very good potential, but gaps exist that need to be filled to ensure the greatest chances for post-military success.

At PreVeteran we believe that a successful military transition requires self-transformation before you take the uniform off. Self-transformation takes time, support, and iteration—and it doesn’t require chain of command approval.

Do you seek chain of command approval before you volunteer to be your son’s Little League baseball coach? Do you seek chain of command approval when you want to change your diet and begin eating better, more healthy foods?

No, of course you don’t. Because these are all done on your time—not the military’s—and it is for your benefit alone. Each of the examples above make you a better person for having done them. Think of PreVeteran in the same light. Our entire business model was built around helping you create your own unique military transition. Our program gives you the framework, tools, and support to begin making your self-transformation before you take the uniform off.

To get started today, download our free “5-Step Guide to Finding the Job You Want Post-Transition.” And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow our LinkedIn company page.


See “2018 Demographics: Profile of the Military Community,” Military One Source, 2018.

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