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By Pat Lisi/Southern Utah Vets Aid

Wow!  What a choice!  You’ve spent the last 19 1/2 years of your life in the military service and now it’s time to make a decision.  A hard decision.  Do you stay in for another hitch and try to hold on for 30, or do you get out while the gettin’s good so you don’t have to be deployed again?

Some of our current soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have done several tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the globe.  The sacrifices that their families have endured are almost overwhelming, just to tag on to the sacrifices of the veterans.  Most of these people know that another tour overseas is likely if they stay in; the natural tendency at this stage is to get out and start collecting that retirement paycheck, and if that’s not enough you go and find a second career.

But, that’s where the problem is:  In this economic turmoil how do you walk away from a 20-year job?  Would you do that in the private sector while this mess is still going on?  Back in my day (Vietnam Era) the answer was easy — head out the door and say, “adios” to the skipper and all your pals, because the kid is coming home!  Well, the job market was wide open when I did that in 1972 just after the war had ended.  But now?  Hmmm, I’d have to think long and hard about that one.

What service men and women need to do these days is start thinking about what they want  if they exit the military.  Should they go further in school?  Not a bad idea, and they can use the GI Bill to help with expenses.  Should they send their spouse out ahead to look for employment and a place to live, and then you join her or him when your enlistment expires?  That’s actually what I did back in the early 70’s.

There is a ton of stuff to think about as you’re preparing to get out of, or to stay in, the military.  If it weren’t for all the darned battles going on all over the world these days it would make things easier.  The military, believe it or not, is not a bad choice all the time.  It fits many people to a tee.  Others, not.

If you’re in this predicament of not knowing which way to turn, maybe get some advice from people both in the service who decided to stay, and folks in civilian life who can point you in the right direction.  I don’t think the decision is impossible; in fact, you’ll have to make up your mind one way or the other sooner or later.  I also don’t think it’s like Doomsday here on the ‘outside’.  There are careers up the yin-yang that will suit you as a veteran.  College is a great choice regardless of age, but I know that has a lot to do with raising a family at the same time and needing money.

But, hang in there and follow your heart.  The heart is always right.  If it feels wrong to get out then stay in, and vice-versa.  If you are a veteran from Southern Utah or you intend to move here to Southern Utah, feel free to give us a call at Southern Utah Vets Aid and we can help you look at the possibilities in the Saint George, Utah area including college and employment.  We’re a free service and here to help all veterans.  Our phone number in St. George is 435-215-3090.  Either way, thank you for your great service!  We are appreciative of all you’ve done for this country.  So, whatever you decide in the long run we wish you all the best of luck!

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