Published on July 15, 2014
8 Unspoken Challenges of Mid-Level and Senior Military Veterans: 8 Unspoken Challenges of Mid-Level and Senior Military Veterans Adapted from blog of Christy Rutherford B y Col Mukteshwar Prasad( Retd ) Introduction: Introduction Men in uniform retire early (Probably the need of service and old outdated understanding ,when world has become smarter , healthier and more reliant on technique and technology where experience matters more rather than old brute physical requirement) Look at successful war casualties rising and endearing well right up to Army Commanders. Aren’t we proud of them and talk with awe and respect? When we separate from the military, we are provided with transitional assistance (Pre retirement training –truncated 6 months course at IIMs & other reputed course at various organisations ) for getting a job, applying for benefits, interviews, etc. Preparation has to be made much earlier rather than at the end and prepare well for transition to the world we came from .Our own aspiration and magic of Mil life becomes impediments. We are and remain generalist capable of handling everything and doing thee best probably given the freedom we can. But there are other challenges we face in leaving that aren’t as apparent or tangible as how to navigate a career fair. some of the unknown and unspoken challenges of veterans that aren’t apparent until months after separating are discussed 1. Our Confidence Can Be Misconstrued As Arrogance: 1. Our Confidence Can Be Misconstrued As Arrogance Military members are inherently confident. In order to make it up the ranks, a certain level of confidence is displayed to gain respect. Sometimes, the lines become blurred and it can transmute into arrogance. In the military environment, we are aware of it, but don’t know that it also shows up when dealing with people personally. Many civilians can spot a successful military person outside of uniform. based on their posture, grooming, dress and the direct projection of our voice Our presence can be intimidating, so we need to learn how to have a solid presence without being overbearing. 2. We Are Great at Everything and Don’t Have a Narrow Focus of Our Desires and What We Are Truly Qualified For: 2. We Are Great at Everything and Don’t Have a Narrow Focus of Our Desires and What We Are Truly Qualified For Ask a retiring member what he wanted to do. He states, “Admin, leadership and intelligence.” He would then state he didn’t care what; he only wanted a job, and some headhunter was going to help place him. Faith in our placement nodes and Directorate of Resettlement leaves much to be desired and we are still stamped as good security and admin person. If we get an interview, do we have passion for the job? No ! We talk “You know, I served 20 years in the military; my resume is impeccable. I moved to this area because my parents are here and I have a house here. I just want a job so I’ll have something to do.” Companies want people who want to work with and for them. They expect innovation and growth. To “just want a job” is interpreted as, This person will likely give minimal effort and rot away at their desk until they find something better, quit or die there. That is not the case, but we risk being viewed as a tree stump if we project this attitude. Many of our veterans have been successful in their second career .But still they are few and far between . 3. We Secretly Wear an Invisible Uniform and Want to Be Treated Accordingly: 3. We Secretly Wear an Invisible Uniform and Want to Be Treated Accordingly Having worked our way up the chain — the challenges, countless meetings, hard jobs, arduous hours, education, training, etc. — we have paid our dues. These dues show up in the form of rank, awards and other armament that are proudly displayed on our uniform. The problem arises when we are in civilian clothes that do not display our dues paid. Who am I if I’m not given respect in the first minute of being greeted? What can I say to someone to gain their respect in the first minute of being greeted? It’s a twisted mind game that sometimes leaves us telling people our military story to gain respect up front. We have forgotten how to gain the respect we desire by being a genuine human. 4. Civilians Don’t Have to Do What We Say: 4. Civilians Don’t Have to Do What We Say What do you mean? you might be thinking I said: Civilians don’t have to do what we say. Really? I don’t understand… The level of this challenge is harder the younger you joined the military and the longer you stayed. As a mid-grade or senior member, you have earned “positional” power, meaning when you give an order or make a request, it’s done with minimal questions asked, with minimal direction and it will be completed on time. This is what happens in a hierarchical system. If you tell a civilian to do something, they may not do it to your standard because of the minimal direction. Heaven forbid if they say no; there may be an awkward silence, then a meltdown, explosion, implosion and/or absolute confusion occurs. We haven’t motivated people with “personal” power in over 15 years, so this is very, very challenging. Remember those of us who have had posting in AHQ or other Civilian establishment-Remain tiger in front of Combatants and tame commander with civilians. We appease and remain friendly with MS staff and those matter for various news which matters to us and continues in second career. 5. We Have Little Patience for What We Perceive As Mediocrity: 5. We Have Little Patience for What We Perceive As Mediocrity If someone is not thinking outside of the box, going above and beyond, or giving 120% in what they do, it’s disappointing. We expect that if someone is met with a barrier, they will work the issue out in their own minds first before coming back for direction. If a person gives the perception of someone who will not be productive, we can tell in two minutes . We try to avoid working with them — or, worse, working for them. Being quick to dismiss people in our minds can hinder us in building great relationships with colleagues and others. 6. We Look at Interviewers Like We Should Have Their Jobs… and They Can Tell: 6. We Look at Interviewers Like We Should Have Their Jobs… and They Can Tell Being great at everything, with an outstanding resume and having conducted a multitude of interview boards, we get bored in interviews. Depending on the interviewer — if they aren’t on our level, their suit is too big, their hair too long or they have bad posture — this sends off red alerts in our minds. The red alerts begin to create annoyance with their questions, then arrogance emits from our pores and we look at the interviewer as if we should be interviewing them. I mean, who hired them anyway, and who gave them the right to ask me these pointless questions? Don’t they see my invisible uniform… ahem, I mean, my resume ? Unfortunately, the interviewer can read our facial expressions and interpret our thoughts. This sends off red flags in their minds as to how we will fit into the culture of their office; they know our type. Speaking of which, do you even know the culture of the company that you are applying to? 7. Our Network Is Mostly Military People: 7. Our Network Is Mostly Military People Networking with civilians can be challenging. We like to hang around people who know our story and how great we are. We like people who speak our acronym language, shop-talk and know our mission and what we did to advance it. To listen to someone tell you about the technical details of coding an app, their excitement over closing a life insurance sale or working in an office — yawn. Look, I chased drug runners in the Caribbean, saved people after hurricanes, had a close call of death in the desert… my stories are better than your story. (So might go our line of thinking.) But networking means we need to be genuinely interested in others. 8. Our Value Is Wrapped Up in What Others Think of Us: 8. Our Value Is Wrapped Up in What Others Think of Us There can be a lack of true self-value among veterans since there are so many ways to display value in our uniform and make sure you see it. If we don’t know our value, it creates apprehension about what we’re qualified for and we worry it won’t show up in our language during interviews. Parting Words: Parting Words The late, great Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Some people can only see the result, but are unaware of the cause. A number of veterans spend most of their adult lives in the military and don’t make the full successful shift back into being a civilian. There is a mental shift that needs to occur, and we hope that this has provided you with better insight as to why you may be experiencing challenges — and that you are not alone. Have you experienced these challenges? What will you do differently? Conclusion: Conclusion Have you experienced these challenges? What will you do differently?