Re-Adjusting to Civilian Life: Navigating the First 90 Days

Re-Adjusting to Civilian Life: Navigating the First 90 Days

Re-adjusting to civilian life after service is a difficult journey to undertake. According to Pew Research, about half of all veterans face mild to moderate challenges in the adjustment period after serving in the military. Along these lines, those who experienced combat or have emotional distress from their time in service are more susceptible to difficulties in the path back to civilian life. This transition is daunting, but anticipating factors that you may come across during this period, can make it easier to navigate. As veterans ourselves, we get it. That’s why we want to provide you with this list in the hopes of making the path to adjustment clearer back into civilian life.


When thinking about where you will live in civilian life, it is important to plan ahead to utilize the benefits you are given as part of your employment. First, look into the VA home loan. The VA guarantees parts of the loan, which makes it an incredibly attractive option to lenders. Furthermore, you may qualify for one last move based on where you currently live. Researching a few months ahead of time can make this process much easier.


For some who have served fantastic military careers, this may be the first time that you have had to apply for a civilian job. This can be daunting, especially if your life has been spent in the military. The first thing to consider is what are you looking for? Are you looking for something like your role in the military, or are you looking to start a new course? A new path may require time back in education. Looking at VA benefits and your GI Bill eligibility is a great way to start looking at affording education. If you aren’t interested in school, starting simple career moves such as resume building and networking with people in your field of interest are great options. Finding people who can put your skills and experience on a resume can make you an even greater candidate for civilian employment.

Family Struggles

Just as you had to adjust to the rigors of military life, so also did your family have to adjust to life at home during this time. Without the service member at home, new routines and structures were put in place to sustain the family while that member is not at home. This can be hard, especially depending on the duration of absence, to realize the family is not the same as before you left. As roles are grappled with, it will take time to re-adjust. Communicating expectations and vocalizing issues as they arise are ways to help establish a new sense of family life as a civilian.


Your income will change with the transition. Making smart financial decisions is crucial to making the most of your veterans benefits. Investing in your individual retirement, such as a 401(k) or 403 (b) plan can be a great step. For retirement funds, you will most likely have a “blended retirement plan,” which contributes to the Thrift Savings Plan. Saving in the months leading up to your transition will also help cushion any out-of-pocket expenses as you find your next opportunity.

Leadership Struggles

The military has a distinct line of command, one that does not translate into civilian life. Certain respect associated with rank is not present in the same way in the civilian world. Anticipating that the same level of respect based on your title will not be present is something that is good to prepare for, especially when starting in a new field. Don’t let this discourage you, as the incredible skills and resources you bring to the table will show in whatever position you find.

Invest Time In You

For the first ninety days of civilian life, adjustment can cause new and unforeseen stressors. For this, The Marine Corps Community has five steps of mindfulness practice that is known to combat stress, especially when readjusting to time as a civilian.

    1. Give Negativity a Time Limit: It is going to be challenging, but you know challenging. Giving yourself a time limit for negative thoughts can make way for more productive energy. Give yourself five minutes to be angry or frustrated, and then hit a workout to burn off that negative energy. 
  • Positivity is Key: This can be anything from something you enjoy about your new job, a great podcast, or a time doing something you enjoy with your family. 
  • Go for a Walk: Aerobic exercise has proven stress-reducing benefits. Moving your body clears your head and lets you think more clearly about expectations.
  • Switch it Up: Changing your routine, even making a new meal, can introduce positive change into your life and help focus your energy on the positives.
  • Talk: Talking to a loved one or trusted professional can be the greatest way to restore positive energy during this transitional period. 

    Although all of these can seem overwhelming, taking the time to plan and prepare for the transition can be your best asset for a smooth transition. Finding a veteran mentor is one extremely positive move you can make, as many want to help those who have also served. Knowing that there are networks of people in place to make the transition easy is a reminder of all you have given, and that you are valued for your service. Taking concrete steps to make sure you are managing stress is your best asset. For extra help in managing stress levels, check out VRB’s focus and calm blend for an extra boost of calm.