Army preps service members for civilian life

Army preps service members for civilian life

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Military downsizing is already shifting the lives of thousands of service members across the country, with changes in full swing on Fort Benning.

The Soldier for Life Job Transition Summit happening this week to help prepare them for some unexpected realizations, like potential shifts in salary.

"From inception, from the day that the soldier signs up, the soldier's already being prepared for separation," said Transition Services Manager Eddie Perez.

That separation from the Army is inevitable and life-changing. Their challenges in civilian life are plenty, but the different, and sometimes smaller pay check each month, are hitting some the hardest.

"There is a huge pay difference, well if you've been in the service for X amount of years and you haven't been out in the market you don't understand that there is a difference," said Perez.

Military officials say a growing number of soldiers have unrealistic salary expectations when transitioning to the private sector. An Army study found that younger soldiers often estimated their post-military salaries will be double or even triple what they brought in while in the Army, which isn't always the case.

"What they taught us, going through the program is that we should prepare ourselves to have a little bit of a change, a little bit of a dip," explained Sgt. Dejuan Bryant who has served more than 14 years and is gearing up to be medically retired.

While soldiers may experience entry-level salaries in their new careers at first, transition officials say it's not necessarily permanent. They hope soldiers use transition services, like those offered at Thursday's job fair, to realize all the skills they have to offer a company.

"Even though companies want to start soldiers at a mid or lower level position, they move up through the ranks very very fast," said Perez.

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