The Struggles We Face: Adapt and Overcome


Throughout life, we will all be faced with obstacles that often seem unsurmountable. For those that served, boot camp was the first hurdle we encountered. What once seemed impossible was easily overcome with a bit of motivation and perseverance. Within a matter of months, we achieved the inconceivable and became members of the United States Armed Forces. However, the path ahead was never easy. On what seemed like a daily basis, we were presented with challenges that some would cower before. But, with training and a little bit of determination, we tackled whatever came before us. However, nothing, not even combat, could prepare for what was to become of us after we left the military.

Times have changed since I first left the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman. I vividly remember the last 30 days of my time in the Corps. I went through the TAPS and SEPS thinking that it would prep me for the new times to come. Shortly after attending the various seminars, I was severely disappointed. Most classes I participated in were either poorly run or provided very little relevant information. They mainly constituted a heads-up on what I would experience once I became a civilian along with a very brief explanation as to how I would translate my skills as a gunslinger into a civilian job. Needless to say, my job prospects in the civilian world seemed to be severely limited to just a handful of jobs.

After leaving service, with little more than a Microsoft Word template-generated resume to my name, I began looking for work in the private sector. Naive, I believed that with my experience as a combat-hardened veteran loaded with a military-focused resume, I would be fighting back the offers coming my way. However, after only a week of searching, I realized that the fantasy would never come. Instead, I found myself applying and interviewing for various jobs, inside and outside my area of interest. After weeks of searching, the frustration mounted and depression set in. I began to doubt my skills and capabilities, questioning if I was even worthy of entering the workforce.

Things eventually took a turn for the better. I went back to school, received my degree in Business Management, landed a job in one of the fields I was looking to enter, and continued my pursuit of higher education with the goal of enhancing the skills needed for the industry I am in. What once seemed hopeless and insurmountable was easily overcome with some drive and willpower. Looking back, transitioning into the civilian world and landing a job was not as hard as dealing with the daily grind of fighting in a hostile area. The hardest part was altering my mindset to account for the change in atmosphere. The daily “suck” were the constant search for jobs, fine-tuning of resumes, writing of cover letters, and prepping for interviews. Adapt and overcome was a phrase I constantly heard in the Marine Corps. The same held true outside of it too.

I’ve talked with many veterans over the years that had similar experiences as I did upon leaving service. But, I’ve noticed that, over time, the information and resources for those transitioning to the civilian world have gotten better. The problem lies with education and accessibility. TAPS and SEPS have started to fine tune their message and provide more information in regards to leaving service and helps build a suitable resume that translates well to the civilian sector. Various VSOs (veteran service organizations) have popped up around the country which provide further assistance in fine tuning resumes. Numerous veteran-specific job fairs are held year-round where employers are actively seeking veterans to fill positions. Local governments are actively engaging their veteran community to assist in the transition to the civilian world. With all the resources available, all that is needed is a change in mindset. Know that you have taken on challenges that are daunting to most, yet you’ve been able to overcome them. The challenges presented in the civilian world are no more intimidating that what you’ve encountered in the past. The only thing that changed is who you have to rely on to your left and right to help you get through it. Gone are the brothers and sisters who’ve got your back. They’ve been replaced by the people and organizations that are sitting on the sidelines waiting there to assist you. Open up your mind, take a look around, and you’ll see what I mean.

Adapt and Overcome.