Who would’ve thought that something as simple as an umbrella would send me spiraling over the edge?
Definitely not me. My name is Jamaal Wheaton, and I am transitioning out of the military with more than 12 years of active duty service in the United States Army. I enlisted in 2004 after pursuing a career in the music business and working as a high school track and football coach.
As a human resources specialist, I made it my mission to learn everything I could to help the soldiers around me live up to their full potential. During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to serve in a variety of different organizations such as infantry, cavalry, logistics, armor, military police and military intelligence.
Each organization prepared me for a specific job by giving me the tools I needed to succeed. I completed a lot of missions in my time because I used the tools that were given to me. But now I’m facing a new mission, and for some reason it is one of the scariest missions I’ve had to prepare for.
Preparing for a New Mission
As I sat there in the lobby waiting to be called for my interview, I reviewed my research. “I’ve been here before,” I thought. “It’s just like going to a promotion board.” I’ve done my research, I got dressed up like they told me to and I made a plan.
I even put a nice pocket square in my suit pocket! Now all of a sudden the rain is pouring down outside the window and all I can think about is the fact that I don’t even own an umbrella and haven’t for over 12 years. Am I ready for this thing called transition? I took the Transition Readiness Quiz on the G.I. Jobs website and it said I was a “Corporate Crusher.” So why is this so tough?
The truth is transition is tough. As military members, we’ve been trained to carry out a variety of different missions and we’ve been given the tools to carry them out. Transition is the one mission that we must prepare ourselves for, and I’m willing to admit, it is a scary mission.
But I prepared for this one. I went to all of the transition classes that my installation offered. I put together a great civilian resume and I sat down with my family and made a great plan. So why is this mission still so frustrating?
Discovering a New Support Team
There are few things that we do in the military alone. So why should transition be any different? It really shouldn’t. Yet I’ve spent so many sleepless nights wondering about my next career or where we will live or who I will be when I don’t have to put on my uniform every morning. It wasn’t until I started tapping into my new support team that I realized it didn’t need to be so difficult. Whether it was opening up to my fiancé, getting advice from a friend or tapping into the incredible support network for veterans, I discovered that it was an important foundation to mastering my new mission.
Making Adjustments to the Plan
So I made a plan, I put together an all-star support team and I’ve done many of the things that successful people do in transition. The problem is, I am less than 60 days from transition and I am not where my original plan told me I would be at this point. But why? Because I’ve had to make adjustments to my plan. I’ve considered new locations, looked into different career fields and drafted countless resumes. I’ve realized that plans change, and one of the greatest skills that we have as military veterans is the ability to adapt to change. So I’ll adapt. And if I must change direction to meet mission requirements, then I will. I’ve heardStarbucks is hiring and has a great veterans program. Time to make a new resume. But first, I’ll go buy myself an umbrella.
Need help making a plan for your transition? Check out “One Year to Transition: 5 Things Your Career Counselor Didn’t Tell You.”