Nine years, nine months, and five days. That’s how long my husband logged in as an active-duty airman before his medical retirement. Nine years, nine months, and five days of all the uncertainty and fluctuations that military life brings.
And then a fresh uncertainty took hold: Medical Retirement.
We could move wherever we wanted to move, but we would have to do it ourselves or pay someone to do it. We could pick whatever job we wanted to go after, at least as soon as our DD Form 214 was in hand. Military service and medical retirement gave my husband an advantage in the hiring process for federal jobs, but did we really want to stay tied to the Department of Defense?
Health insurance. Survivor benefits. Life insurance. Commissary and exchange privileges. GI Bill benefits. We had so many new rules to learn.
Job-search strategies. Resume writing. Interview protocols. Salary negotiation. My husband had so many new skills to gain.
When retirement looms, where do you start?
You, the wife of a man who’s fought evil in so many ways, play a significant role in helping your spouse transition out of the military. ~Carrie Daws, from Beyond Warrior’s Bride: Retirement
My co-author on The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive, Kathy Barnett, and I tackle this very topic on the last book in the Beyond Warrior’s Bride series from two different perspectives.
My husband medically retired from the Air Force just shy of ten years on active duty. Kathy’s husband retired from the Army after a career spanning twenty-five years. In some ways, our retirements were very different. But in others, they were largely the same. As Kathy writes in our book, Retirement,
We had never been able to choose where we would live, or for how long. We couldn’t plan our holidays or vacations when we wanted. Sam and I couldn’t even plan to have our children or raise them together. Anticipating stepping away from that control as retirement neared was exhilarating on many levels.
But stepping out of that tunnel meant leaving someplace that was contained and where I knew where my boundaries were located. I knew the path. It had had many twists and turns through the years, but the course had never varied, and even in the unexpected, I’d learned to anticipate and understand this well-laid, albeit often monotonous, journey. The covering provided by the United States military was often comforting in its confinement.
New Help for Military Retirement
While Kathy and I offer all the support and wisdom we had at the time, we also had to stick to our word limit for the series we were writing. We could have touched on a plethora of other topics and delved more seriously into all our husbands experienced as they walked away from their own security within the confines of the military.
Thankfully, another author has stepped into the gap! Let me introduce you to Leaving War, Finding Love: A Veteran’s Transition by Hillary Sigrist.
This wonderful book offers the military spouse incredible insight that ours does not. While ours deals a bit more with the practical aspects of retirement, Hillary’s book beautifully covers the emotional side of all that leaving the military means to both the active duty member and the spouse. It truly makes a phenomenal companion book to ours, completing the picture of what happens through military retirement.
The comfort of the known in exchange for the uncertainty of our future became increasingly profound with each passing week. ~Kathy Barnett, from Beyond Warrior’s Bride: Retirement
I truly wish I had had a copy of Hillary’s book back in 2008 when we retired! It would have been so helpful. As it is, though, I encourage my military friends who will retire within the next year or two to pick up both my book and Hillary’s so your transition out will hopefully be smoother than ours was. Or, at least, so you can be more prayerful ahead of time!
So, Tell Me . . .
I want to know what you think!
- Did this post make you think a bit to make sure you’re on track with God? Write ‘Yes’ in the comments below.
- Does this motivate you to make some changes in your life? Write ‘Changes Ahead!’ in the comments below.
- Do you need to think about it some more or figure out what God wants you to do? Let me know you are ‘Still Thinking.’
- Anything else come to mind? Share it below! Your comments encourage me to keep writing, no matter how insignificant you think your thoughts about this post are.
If you want to read more from me about military retirement, check out my ebook in the Beyond Warrior’s Bride series. It’s only $0.99!
The years have been hard, filled with deployments, trainings, moves, forced flexibility, and uncertainty. Retirement finally looms, yet a fresh uncertainty takes hold. Gone are the days of someone telling you where to live and providing a house for you. No longer will someone tell your man where to go and what to take with him. Now all those choices are yours and his. Where do you start?
Among the plethora of options open to you, pieces of the military will likely always follow you. As your ETS (Expiration Term of Service) nears, learn from retired military spouses Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws, who have already walked the road you face. Make the journey forward a little easier by arming yourself with what they’ve discovered in retirement.