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When I got out of the military, I fell flat on my face trying to figure out what in the hell I wanted to do next. I left at the pinnacle of an officer’s career: company command. I had the honor and privilege to lead 100+ members of our military through thick-and-thin and the bonds I formed there I will remember for the rest of my life.
So why did I leave? It’s not because I hated what I did in the military, in fact, I loved it. I just didn’t love what the military had in store next for me. I enjoyed being around the sergeants and enlisted, but I didn’t want to go be a staff officer where someone with my personality could wither away.
So what in the hell do you do once you’ve already had your dream job in your 20s? I was about to find out.
My first job out of the military was into a really well-paying one back in my hometown. The company had a decent reputation of hiring veterans and they pulled me in and I had a job lined up for a week after I was eligible to start working post-military. I looked at the job and thought, “meh, but whatever. Everyone hates their job.”
I took that job because of the pay, both short and long term. After a few months, I was miserable. I knew I had to get out of their, but I
wasn’t sure how. Then, I was given a chance and I took the shot.
When I mention that I fell flat on my face after I left the military, it’s because the drive and the passion that I once had for my career
had completely evaporated. I viewed being in great physical shape as one of many tenets in being a military officer.
Each and every morning, I busted my ass working 60+ hours a week trying to stay in condition because that is what the Soldiers, Airmen,
Sailors and Marines expect of their officers. Sure, being in shape isn’t all they care about, but it’s one of those things they notice if you’re not. There’s a lot of that in the military, as well. You’re expected to do X, Y, Z on your own time. Uniform better look good, better be shaven, better be able to run 5 miles tomorrow if I ask you to, all of that.
When I got out, that went away. No longer was anyone watching my moves out of the corner of their eye to see if I was keeping up. I was on my own. While some may think of that as being miserable, to me, it wasn’t. It was an amazing opportunity and the best job of my life.
After dozens of appointments with the VA, my disability rating came back and it was so high that my state deemed it necessary to give me
handicap plates on my vehicle (I’m in my 20s). What was crazy to me, though, was that while I knew the physical injuries were most
certainly there, I never felt them while I was serving.
The bad back, sore knees, and throbbing headaches from numerous concussions: that was all blocked out by my body. Similar to an athlete with a rolled ankle about to play in the national championship, I didn’t feel the pain. My team needed me to keep pushing, so I did.
When I got out, that pain hit me like a fucking brick wall. The national championship was over and I couldn’t find anywhere else to keep playing. I let that disability percentage take-over and convince me that I couldn’t do things anymore. I believed it.
The feeling I had while wearing that uniform was incredible, and I’ll never find anything like that again. If you ask a WWII Veteran when they felt their life truly had meaning and purpose, they’ll point you back to when they were 18 serving as a private in the military. I lost that purpose and I was hell bent on getting it back.
The job I was presented a chance to interview for is the one I currently fill; a recruiting manager with a special emphasis on getting veterans and transitioning military members hired.
For all of the programs out there, veteran employment and under-employment still remains a very real problem and the suicide issue is finally coming front-and-center of the national stage. One of the biggest reasons for veteran suicide? Lack of meaning and purpose in their next career.
I was presented a chance to jump into the ring and fight for those who I once served with, I had finally found my next dream job. One of my
favorite things about this job? Knowing that people within my company look at me and my performance and use that as an indicator as to whether or not they should hire veterans onto their team. Much like sales people love the pressure of deadlines and closing deals, this is the pressure that truly brings out the best in me.
Before long, I was working nearly 60 hours a week trying to get veterans hired. I started working out again (spending more money than I should have in patriotic workout gear), shaving every day and everything else I did while in the military. I even started training for a marathon with my dog because I was determined to prove to literally no one but myself that I wasn’t disabled. Last week, we were able to finish that race after 9+ months of training and the feeling that I got when we crossed the finish line was one I haven’t felt in years.
I still can’t decide if this means I transitioned from the military very well, or very poorly. Honestly? I don’t even care, all I know is that I have finally found a second calling and I couldn’t be happier about it.
If you’re currently in a position right now that you don’t truly love, start the job hunt. I know it sounds super cliché, but I truly don’t
feel like I work all that much because I am doing what I love. Go find what that job is for you and start doing everything you need to do to make the leap into that role. I promise you won’t regret it..
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