Changing careers at any stage in your life is difficult. It is even more so when what you’re leaving is not just a career, but a lifestyle.
U.S. veterans face difficult transitions after the military, and the process is exacerbated by the armed services themselves, which often do little to prepare service members to successfully shift to civilian life.
No one-week transition-assistance course can give a veteran every bit of information he or she needs to succeed, whether in seeking work or going back to the classroom, as I did.
It is the perception of some service members that predominantly liberal areas, such as NYC, might not always appreciate veterans and their causes. But the city’s creation of the Department of Veterans Services in 2016 dispels that notion — a great step in showing veterans around the country that the perception is not reality here.
I served three years with the Marine Corps, finishing active duty service at 22 in 2015. I was stationed in Cherry Point, N.C., and I served in Japan and South Korea. I’m a Long Island native, but now live in NYC.
As a veteran, I have met two employees at the city veterans department who confirmed that the agency is accepting walk-in visits. No appointment is necessary to receive help.
And veterans need the help. They make up about 10 percent of the U.S. population, but account for about 18 percent of all suicide deaths in America, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
So NYC’s department is truly significant for the estimated 225,000 veterans who live here because exiting service members can receive more immediate and direct assistance with securing housing, accessing education benefits, determining health care and finding employment.
As part of a work-study position at Fordham University, I help student veterans get acquainted with certain services. I try to help veterans avoid mistakes that I made while returning to civilian life and the classroom as a full-time student — such as taking on too many courses a semester or stretching life responsibilities too thin.
The DVS is a great step in helping this city’s returning veterans transition to civilian life, and in showing they are appreciated.
Robert Molina is a junior at Fordham majoring in political science and economics.