Take action today. Call our experts at: phone icon1-800-522-5221

Community Partners

Pivoting from One Career to Another: Advice from the Leader Transition Institute


Military life is a way of life. Even when you leave the service, you will be taking all you’ve learned, experienced, seen and heard with you wherever you go, moving forward into the civilian working world. Annie Brock at the Leader Transition Institute shared some smart tips to help you get ahead and stay ahead as you transition into the next phase of your career and life.

5 Things to Know About Transitioning Out of the Military:

  1. Be patient with yourself. The most challenging thing you’ll deal with will be not finding a job or DFAS not getting your retirement check right. When you leave the military, your subconscious will, for quite some time, filter everything you see, hear, and think about through your military mindset. This vast mismatch between where you are and what you know can cause high levels of anxietythat you won’t expect. You can work through it, but it may take several years. Everyone who leaves the military goes through this, whether they recognize it or not. So give yourself a break.
  2. Learn effective communication. Being able to communicate well in the civilian world is crucial for building relationships and achieving success. Your ability to connect with people is dependent on your ability to interact with them. Take the time to understand how others perceive you and your communication style. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and feedback from others to improve your ability to make connections. Strong communication skills will help you navigate various social and professional settings more effectively. And remember — listen to learn, not just to respond.
  3. Look beyond titles. Rank and title often define your role and responsibilities in the military. However, in the civilian sector, the significance of your position may differ. Understand that a prestigious title may come with additional responsibilities, such as business development, that could impact your work-life balance and family time. Consider what truly brings you joy and fulfillment and prioritize your values and relationships over title and status.
  4. Involve your family. Military transitions are a team sport. When you move into the civilian sector, so does your family. Actively including your family in the process is important. Download AAFMAA's free Transition Timeline and share information about transition opportunities with your spouse. Let them make the decision about whether they would like to participate; don’t make that decision for them. Your family’s input and support are invaluable; involving them will help create a smoother transition for everyone involved. 
  5. Embrace your unique journey. Every individual’s transition experience is unique. Avoid comparing your progress to others and instead focus on your path. Understand that there is no "right" way to transition, and giving yourself grace is essential throughout the process. Be open to learning, adapting, and embracing new opportunities as they come your way. Remember, your transition is a personal journey that will unfold in its own time.

Sarah Bumgardner, Director of Partnership and Member Engagement at AAFMAA recently spoke with President and CEO of the Leader Transition Institute, Annie Brock, a 35 year military spouse and 10 year Veteran. They shared information about how servicemembers can utilize LTI at any point after separating or retiring from service to gain help in finding identity, financial health, resume and Linkedin assistance. Tune in to get their insights:

To learn more about the Leader Transition Institute and Changing Focus: Moving from We to Me, please go to https://www.leadertransitioninstitute.org and/or send an email to [email protected].

AAFMAA Is Here to Help

If you have any questions about making your transition out of the military, contact our Member Benefits team at 703-707-1182. They can help guide you on life insurance options to consider as a replacement for SGLI (Servicemembers Group Life Insurance) you’ll lose upon your exit, enrolling in the SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan), providing information about the VA (Veterans Affairs), and more. Plus, all AAFMAA Members receive their own secure Digital Vault, available 24/7 online, to store their essential documents, including your DD-214. It’s accessible in the AAFMAA Member Center.