Retiring soldiers may find the jump from the Army world to the civilian business sector a little daunting.

“It is a scary time for someone who has spent all of his adult life in the military,” said Mary Kaldsleisch, job assistance counselor for the Army Career and Alumni Program in Wiesbaden, Germany.

The program can help with writing a résumé, preparing for job interviews and even tracking down jobs, Kaldsleisch said.

“We try to help them take a look inward and see how they are going to approach a nonmilitary lifestyle,” she said. “They have to demilitarize themselves and their résumés.”

Many soldiers “don’t think they have any skills, but the skills they possess from being in the military are really sought after by employers,” she said.

That’s not to say that prospective employers are waiting for newly retired soldiers just outside the gate, she warned.

“On average, it takes about six to nine months to find a job,” Kaldsleisch said. “Retiring soldiers can start coming to ACAP two years before they retire. It’s important to get the word out to commanders to let the soldiers start coming here as soon as possible. The thought of a soldier only getting a couple of months to find a job scares me.”

Not to mention that the average retiring soldier is about 40. But Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Tomey, of the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery in Bamberg, Germany, said the age factor doesn’t concern him.

“I don’t think of it as being older than the competition, but being more experienced,” Tomey said. “I’m a mechanic. I’ve been looking around and there are a lot of opportunities out there for me.”

But Tomey, who is planning to retire in November, said he can’t try to lock down a job until he has retirement orders with a definite date of when he would be available to start work.

That, too, can be difficult with the always-looming threat of stop loss, which prevents servicemembers from leaving the service when their time is up. Tomey said he was planning to retire late last year when his plans were changed because of stop loss.

“I didn’t think it was right,” said Staff Sgt. Lawrence Primus, who is planning to retire in June. “When a soldier gets to that point, it makes him change his whole plans. We arranged for the tenants to be out of our house on a certain date, so we’ve had to suck up that cost for a year.”

“You get yourself ready and get your family ready, and then the Army prevents you from going through with it,” Tomey said. “It can be really stressful.”

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