Is “transition” the military way to say, It’s not you, it’s me?
It wasn’t until I heard Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno talk about how we are going to help soldiers transition into their awesome new lives in the civilian world that I realized this is what the military means every time they use the word “transition.”
— It means that $500 billion in defense spending cuts are coming.
— It means a new round of post-war downsizing like we had in the 1990s is on its way.
— It means the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marine Corps are getting ready to break up with thousands upon thousands of us.
I’m OK with that. Even though the thought of my husband leaving the military freaks me out a little (Where will we live? How will we eat? Who will hire a man who wears white pants and white shoes??), I have always known that this relationship we have with the military was never going to last forever.
My servicemember (SM), like the most hopeless of Say Anything teenagers, can hardly admit this is true. I think he is adorable.
Still, as the person who really loves him, as the person who will be driving him home from his retirement ceremony someday, I have always thought that it was my job to keep an eye on his relationship with the military to make sure it is healthy. Here are my personal top ten signs that the military is not that into your lovey:
1. She plays the ukulele and writes peace poetry. As our readers point out, there are some highly creative, gifted individuals working in the military. But if you are married to a creative and their military job is sucking them dry instead of firing them up, remind them that creativity is a gift. A regular paycheck can keep the creative body and soul together, but if your creative is stuck in the wrong kind of job, you know it better than anyone. What else is out there?
2. He does not want his boss’s job or his boss’s boss’s boss’s job. One of the best rules I have ever heard about whether you should stay in your industry is to look at how much you want your boss’s job. Sometimes the entry level job sucks loads. If the job with more responsibility and more expertise is intriguing to your SM, the military still wants him.
3. She does not like people. As your SM gets more senior, they will be required more and more to handle people. They will have to lead people, guide people, coach people, comfort people. If your SM doesn’t want to deal with more people, the outside world seems to have a lot more opportunity. Unless your SM is in one of those jobs where they just want her to sit in a cubicle and think up secret stuff. Then the military is probably really, really into her.
4 .They eliminate his specialty. Just like the civilian world has grown out of its need for watch repair shops and landline phones, the military periodically gets rid of classes of ships, types of aircraft, divisions of people who use a certain type of weapon. If your servicemember can’t transition into something new, this could be your ticket to the suburbs.
5. Military retirement is her only reason to stay in. If you ask our veteran readers whether your service member should stay in or get out of the military, they shout out the benefits of retirement pay. Although 12 years seems like a long time to stay in when you are 30, it’s nothing when you are 72. The thing is our veterans often forget that you have to get promoted and promoted and promoted to get to 20 or 25 years of service.
6. The military is a just a job to him. Some kids know all their lives that all they want to do is fly a plane, jump out of a plane, take on the Navy SEALs. Some military members know in their heart of hearts that their ship or their division or their Marines represent the most meaningful work in the world. If your servicemember thinks of their time in uniform as just a job not a career or a calling, other opportunities await.
7. She suddenly notices just how much Kool Aid she has actually been drinking. Sometimes a person loves their job beyond all reason.Then one day they wake up and feel different: it isn’t worth it anymore. A paycheck and benefits are not enough reason to stay in a job you hate. Make a new plan, man.
8. He gets passed over for the last time. A military member gets more than one chance at promotion. People mature at different times. Yet sometimes even the best people are passed over for weird reasons. No sense in showing up at the Pentagon and throwing rocks at their window all night long begging them to take you back.
9. She commits a felony. If your service member gets their name in the paper for something heinous or not so heinous, I suspect there is very little forgiveness available in the modern military. Slip out the back, Jack. A less judgey world awaits.
10. You and the kids have already moved back to Indiana. Sometimes a family absolutely cannot deal with the demands of the military. Choose family every time.
Greg Behrendt, author of He’s Just Not That Into You, wrote, “When it comes to men, deal with them as they are, not how you’d like them to be.” That is pretty good guidance for relationships. And excellent guidance when it comes to dealing with the military in a brave new economy.