Military Value -- Shadow_soldiers departing service

Experts Explore Core Challenges of the Military to Civilian Transition: Part III – Knowing Your Value

Welcome to the third and final part of our series, where we have been investigating three prominent factors faced by former military members transitioning to civilian employment.

In examining the knowledge of experts, and most specifically, veterans who have obtained success in the face of certain roadblocks, we have discovered significant commonality in the relayed experiences of former military members. The transition from military to private sector is one experience, while still exceptional to most civilians, has managed to achieve a considerable amount of overlap within the veteran community. For this reason, we wish to provide a service to you by shedding light on strategic tools which can aid in your accomplishment as a professional navigating the private sector.

Military Value -- Shadow_soldiers departing service

In our previous two pieces, we explored how Culture Shock and Translation are vital considerations to the transitioning service member.

For our closing article, we will focus on a subject closely linked to our last piece, but which more than deserves its own spotlight.

Knowing Your Value

While similar to Translation in core skills, by which you explore language and the utility of expression, knowing your Value takes this a step farther, as it becomes the source of your confidence and sense of self-worth when moving into the business world.

There are a multitude of things for every service member, past or present, to take pride in. However, carefully examining your skill set and personal experiences can provide you the foundation on which to build your professional career in the private sector. The meaning of Value here also extends beyond confidence—it moves into actual numbers to help you evaluate what level of compensation you can aim for. It is all too often that service members underestimate their own Value in these terms.

John Cooney, Army Reservist and Owner of Green and Gold Financial Panning in Middleboro, MA., has this to say:

Know the full value of what you were earning in the military. It is not just your salary, but also your basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, etc. Don’t look at the military pay chart and think you can live the same lifestyle at the same salary on the civilian side.”

Mr. Cooney brings up some invaluable points. It is important not to simply take your paycheck numbers into account, but to also tabulate every feasible allowance into the equation. That is the number that more accurately reflects your entry-level earnings into the corporate world; and it’s a number much higher than most may think, before taking this new formula into account.

Military Value -- notebook_writing_smartphone

Additionally, you may be interested in increasing your value! One of the best ways to do this is through higher education which, thanks to your service, is an option that is very likely on your table.

Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney is the Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Criminal Justice Programs at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA.  She is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of I AM MORE Institute for Excellence  & Social Responsibility, Inc. Dr. Pinckney is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts Board of Directors, and speaks often on the transition of military members to higher education and she has some insightful words of both encouragement and caution:

In looking for positions with low stress and high social impact, many [of those] transitioning to the civilian workforce look to higher education for positions as professions, adjuncts, and administrators.  Some think the job will be easy. Most do not consider that training a group of military personnel or training at an police or military academy is far different than that of a traditional college or university classroom setting.” 

This is an important consideration for those used to the day-to-day workings and reasonable expectations of life in the service. Dr. Pinckney continues:

“Even the best students are not as disciplined, require much more patience, and are in need of supports not usually the norm in military education or training. Additionally, there is more academic freedom. For some, this is a blessing, for the regimented individual the freedom can leave them frustrated.

As an educator, administrator, and trainer, I work with those transitioning to the civilian workforce by helping them translate military experiences, training, and responsibilities into terms that appeal to those in higher education. Most often, they are more experienced and qualified than they realized. I hope more people transitioning from military to civilian work choose higher education. We need their knowledge and would love to continue to support them in their new career path.”

In closing, we can reflect on the lessons here and underscore the value that every service member has to offer society in general and world of business in particular.

Military Value -- Veterans sign with flag

Knowing your resources and capitalizing on the networks available to you are paramount to success.


Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.