Transitioning into a new career field can seem overwhelming. You have to decide on what you even want to do, what you can do, what are you qualified to do, how can you get qualified or education to be marketable, college, trade, or certifications? There are so many questions and the answers are not always easy to come to. There are local VA vocational rehab centers usually in your area, there are wounded warrior online resources, VA liaisons are typically located within the financial aid offices of most schools, there are online resources like linkedin.com where you can network with other vets and organizations that can help you. The best resource in my experience is having a strong support system of some battles that have already transitioned. I know that as an infantryman I could not relate my professional experience to a civilian profession outside of law enforcement and contracting. One of the things that I have found is that our soft skills make us extremely marketable to employers, we just need to learn how to phrase and word those soft skills in a way that civilians see the value that we bring to their organization. One of the largest skills we bring to an organization and that set us apart from most is our critical problem solving skills. We in the military are able to think on our feet, analyze situations critically, and formulate logical and efficient solutions to those problems while under severe stress. For more ways to translate your soft skills and NCOER or OER bullets as well feel free to comment or email me.
My name is SFC Retired Sean Zitzer. I am originally from Chicago, IL, but I am currently retired just outside of Fort Benning in Columbus, GA. I was medically retired after just shy of 11 years of service and 3 ½ tours as an Infantryman. I am currently an IT Specialist, a bit of a fitness junky, a father of 3 kids, and I have my three dogs as well. Among many injuries and issues the thing that got put me out as I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis from my ass to my skull, and pieces of shrapnel due to that, that are now pinching nerves in my spine. I say this not for a pity party or thanks, but for those of you suffering from the same or similar issues to know that I can understand to an extent what you are going through.
Exiting the military can be a joyous occasion for some and a bittersweet farewell for others; regardless at some point the inevitable “What am I gonna do with my life?” question will pop-up. This can be overwhelming to say the least. I know that in my career I made 7 in 7 was on track to make the 8 list in 2018, and then I was hit with the “We cannot remove the shrapnel from your spine or repair the damage done without risking permanent nerve damage thank you for your service sergeant,” line. At first being an Infantryman I fought it, and like every other injury thought that I could just push through it. I went to see Avengers “End Game,” with my son, I arrived fine, sat down and enjoyed the movie with him. When the movie was over, I got up and couldn’t move, use, or feel my left arm. I went to the ortho surgeon and he told me that this was temporary and would resolve itself after the vertebrate decompressed off the nerve, however if I kept it up, I risked permanent damage to include loss of bowels. I was like I am way to young to be in diapers and that’s when it hit me that I couldn’t push through this, my career was over. I planned on doing at least my 20 and retiring. I had no plans on what to do now; in the present. It was completely unexpected, and I had roughly 6 months to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life since the MEB process had been revamped and shortened. Long story short, not without much struggle and hard work, I find myself, an Infantryman, living a successful life on the outside as an IT specialist. There is a lot more in there, but we will save that for another conversation because they are some deep, sometimes, dark topics. This is just a quick look at my situation so we all know where I am coming from would love to hear yours whether you’ve just gotten out, recently will be, or have been out for a long time, the struggles are there for us all and they can lessen but never go away. Any thoughts? Similar situations? Contributions?