Transitioning from Military Service

Ensure a Smooth Transition From Military to a Civilian Job

Although transition assistance programs offer useful information and skills to help you each step of the way, the ultimate responsibility for a successful transition rests with you and your family. There will be many important decisions that only you can make and new roles that no one but you can take on. Here are a few things you can do to help make your transition journey a success:

  • Make the most of your Individual Transition Plan (ITP). The ITP is your transition blueprint. Develop it with care and thought toward your goals and objectives for career, family, finances, continuing education, and any other areas of your life affected by the transition. ITP action steps and timelines, to be updated and refined as you go along, help to keep you focused and on track. You will receive information on developing an ITP during pre-separation counseling.
  • Stay motivated. It’s easy to let feelings about leaving the military get in the way of moving forward with your plan. But this is no time to procrastinate. Successful transitioners approach the challenges ahead with the same “can do” attitude they have for the military mission.
  • Practice networking. Transition assistance programs emphasize the importance of networking as a way to find out about job opportunities that aren’t advertised. Networking simply means seeking out people who may be able to help you with advice, job leads, and contacts, then letting them know about you and your employment goals. Networking involves promoting yourself and asking for help; two skills that do not always come naturally. But the more you practice networking with friends, current or former colleagues, and acquaintances the better you’ll get.
  • Have confidence in your military experience. Transitioning service members sometimes wonder how much civilian employers will value their military experience. But if you take time to recognize and appreciate the scope of knowledge, skills, and abilities you acquired in the military, it will be easier to present yourself to any prospective employer with confidence. Not only do you have exceptional technical skills and training, you’ve also mastered the military traits of good discipline, teamwork, leadership, and the ability to put mission first. Employers value these qualities in applicants regardless of the nature of the work.

Survivor Benefits for Death on Active Duty:

  • Death Gratuity — Lump sum payment of $100,000 (tax free). Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) — Coverage of up to $400,000.
  • Pay — Arrears in pay and payment for accumulated leave.
  • Medical/Dental Benefits — Receive benefits as “Active Duty Dependents” for three years. After three years, transition to TRICARE, just like the families of military retirees. Dependant children of deceased servicemembers receive TRICARE Prime medical coverage at no cost, until age 21, or age 23 if they are full-time college students.
  • Final Move — No cost shipment of household goods within 1 year.
  • Burial Benefit — Care and disposition of remains, including burial in a national cemetery with appropriate military honors or reimbursement of up to $7,700 for private arrangements.
  • Travel — Transportation reimbursement for immediate family for travel to and from the funeral is available or the government will provide suitable transportation.
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation — Tax-exempt, COLA adjusted monthly payment to spouse and to children age 18, or 23 if enrolled in post-secondary education.
  • Survivors’ and Dependants’ Education Assistance (DEA) — Tax-exempt, COLA adjusted benefit for spouse and children for continued education.

Survivors Benefits After Transition

  • VA Benefits terminate when you leave the service (unless death is service-connected)
  • Social Security — Not available until age 60 unless children under age 16 are still at home.
  • SGLI goes away.
  • Government Benefits provide monthly income not a lump sum.

Bottom Line

  • $500,000 in lump-sum death benefits plus monthly income stops when service ends.
  • Providing for your family is now up to you.
  • You need an insurance plan that will stay with you regardless of where you are or what you do.

Decisions You Must Make Now

  1. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Participation: If you are retiring from military service you have the option of participating in the Survivor Benefit Plan – an annuity plan which guarantees that a portion of your retirement pay will continue to be paid to your survivors after your death. Get the details on eligibility, cost and key decision making points.
  2. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Conversion to VGLI: Whether you are separating from military service or retiring, you will need to decide what to do with your SGLI coverage. SGLI stays with you for an additional 120 days after you leave the service, and then it stops for good. You need to decide to either take VGLI or get your own individual life insurance.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Facts

  1. VGLI is available to all service members leaving active duty. 
  2. Acceptance is guaranteed if coverage is elected within 120 days of leaving the service.
  3. No proof of insurability required within the first 120 days of leaving service.
    VGLI Costs.

Monthly Premiums for $400,000 Maximum Coverage Under VGLI:

  • Under 30 is $32 
  • 30+ is $40
  • 35+ is $52
  • 40+ is $68
  • 45+ is $88
  • 50+ is $144 
  • 55+ is $268
  • 60+  is $432
  • 65+  is $600
  • 70+ is $900 
  • 75+ is $1,800              

Which Insurance is Right for You?

Term Life Insurance

  • Low cost protection for a fixed period of time 
  • Premiums guaranteed never to increase

Best Choice: for those looking for the highest amount of life insurance possible while keeping premiums very low.
Get more Information  

Permanent Life Insurance

  • Guaranteed lifetime protection 
  • Tax-deferred cash value growth

Best Choice: for you to protect both yourself and your family for your entire life while accumulating cash value.

Get more Information 

How We Can Help

Navy Mutual’s life insurance stays with you as your career changes. You and your family are protected, no matter where life takes you.

  • Government Survivor Benefits Educators available to help you make an informed decision about your military benefits
  • Dedicated membership representative to help you determine exactly what your family needs now
  • Military benefits specialists that take into account any military benefits that might apply to you already
  • Counseling and military benefits claims assistance for your survivors
  • No sales fees, commissions and loads on any products or services keep your cost low

Deciding Where to Live When You Leave The Military

As you separate from the military, you’ll face many tough decisions, including where you and your family will live. You’ll want to consider your family’s wishes as well as career opportunities and cost of living. Do you want to live near a military installation or near your reserve unit? Many factors will go into your decision, and thinking carefully about the options will help you make the best choice.

Talking with your family

Because your relocation plans will significantly affect them, it’s important to include your family early on as you explore your options.

  • Career and educational opportunities for your family. More than likely, your family has made sacrifices for your military career. Your spouse may have put a career on hold or moved far from family members. Now, he or she might want to pursue that career or reconnect with family. Your move will also have an impact on your children, who may have to change schools.
  • Extended family. Now may be a good opportunity to move home and renew relationships with your extended family. But before you make that decision, it’s important to take a careful look at your hometown and evaluate the job market, the schools and the cost of living to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your family.

Finding the best places to live

In searching for the right place to live, be sure to consider job opportunities, schools, climate, crime rates and cost of living, among other important factors. To narrow your options, do a little research into the areas that are most important to you. Even if you already have a location in mind, your research will help determine if it really is the best place. The following resources can help:

  • Your installation Relocation Assistance Program office. Depending on your service branch, this program may have another name or be located in your Family Support Center. Visit early on to discuss potential locations. Staff and volunteers can give you information on real estate and rentals in the area and provide a Chamber of Commerce packet.
  • Websites. There are many websites that can help you find the best places to live based on your preferences. A quick search online will help you identify the sites that will work best for you. These sites can help you define the ideal place to live by letting you choose the importance of such categories as education, crime rates, climate and housing costs. You can narrow your search by preferences or compare your favorite cities.
  • Local information. Search for local information by visiting community or Chamber of Commerce websites, talking to real estate agents and reading the local newspaper.
  • Personal preferences. There are some preferences that can’t be factored into a test on a website. You may want to live close to a military installation so you and your family can take advantage of military benefits. Or you may want to move near a particular reserve unit, where you can train in a specialized area. Whatever your personal preferences, you’ll want to consider their importance in your decision.

Searching for a job

For you, as for many separating service members, a new job may determine where you live after leaving the military. Searching for a job may begin months before you actually separate from the military, but you may not find your dream job right away. Because you have as much as six months to a year to take advantage of your final relocation benefits, don’t feel rushed into moving before you’ve found a job. Taking the following steps can help:

  • Attend a Transition Assistance Program employment workshop. Offered by the installation transition office or, depending on your service branch, by the Family Support Center, this workshop will help you find a job by providing information on job-search strategies, resume writing, interviewing skills, job offers and salary negotiation. You can also check out the TurboTAP website for resources, need-to-know information and toolkits to help you with your new future.
  • Research job markets. Read trade journals in your field and visit job search websites to help you find available positions in your area of expertise.
  • Network. Talk with former service members or civilians in your line of work to get an idea of the job market. Military service organizations can also offer great networking opportunities. For example, military organizations like the Military Officers Association of America offer job search resources and opportunities to connect with other former service members in your area.

Making the decision

No decision is guaranteed, but careful evaluation will help you choose the best option for you and your family. Be sure to:

  • Weigh your options. Write down the choices available, and weigh the pros and cons of each. This is especially important if your decision is being guided by emotions. Are you thinking of moving home because your parents want you to, even though the best job opportunities are in another state? Writing down the pros and cons will also help you prioritize the things that are most important to you — maybe moving back home is more important than a high-paying job.
  • Prepare for mixed emotions. Even though you’re excited about starting your new life outside the military, moving can be stressful for both you and your family. Be prepared for conflicting emotions as you say goodbye to friends and your military life.
  • Visit the Transportation Management Office. As soon as you’ve made your decision, visit the Transition Management Office. Your installation office will schedule your final move, and the earlier you visit their office, the more likely you are to get the move dates you request.

Relocation assistance

Your relocation benefits include one final move from your last duty station within the time and geographic limits listed below. If you live in installation housing, you may be allowed one move out of housing into the local community and another final move within these limits. Check with your installation’s TMO for details on benefits specific to your final move.

  • Retirement. You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your retirement date. (This is called a home of selection.)
  • Involuntary separation (honorable discharge). You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
  • Voluntary separation (honorable discharge). You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation date. If you choose a destination of greater distance, you will be obligated to pay the additional costs.
  • General discharge (under honorable conditions). You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation.

Homelessness Prevention Programs

Homelessness can take many forms. If you or a veteran you know are sleeping in a car, crashing on a friend’s couch, staying at a family member’s house, or facing eviction or foreclosure while transitioning out of military service, the VA can help. Make the call to 877-4AID-VET, or chat online to be connected to the homelessness prevention resources the VA offers. Learn about all the programs that can help you or a veteran you know overcome or prevent homelessness at