Originally Posted by Hardatit
I'll revive this post. I'll be retiring 1 Jan 23, after 21 years 3 months in the AF. Deployed now but back in October and after leave, R&R, TAP, I won't be seen much till after 1st of the year 2023. I start the skillbridge program in July so I'm pretty much done in June of next year. I'm super excited about it, I was always told by the ole timers that I'd know when it was time, well I know for sure I'm ready to go, after 8 deployments and several more TDY's and 2 short tours, I'm ready to have some stability. I've been planning this heavily and building income sources on the side for about 10 years now. My goal was 10 sources of income I am now at 7 not counting my fiancés income. I can proudly say that I am and have been living off my side income for several years now. The mil pay has been invested and thrown at the mortgage the last few years. I found my dream home that came with a rental property back in 2019 and will have it paid off in a few months so I'll be 100% debt free with around 800K invested. I plan to continue to do my side business/s which are online sales, buying and selling ATV's or whatever I can find (this is what I love to do by the way) and the rental. I value freedom and flexibility and the ability to do what I want with my time and I can't wait to see what that feels like. I should pull in right at $32K a year after taxes from mil retirement not counting any disability (that's a wildcard for me), and of course Tricare is a big perk. Any advice from those that have gone before, any thing you wish you'd known a year out?
Kudos for asking this question now. I get way too many unhappy e-mails from vets who didn't know what they didn't know, and didn't think to ask about it until it was way too late.
You’re probably already choosing a TAP date. If your fiancé has the time then I’d strongly recommend that they attend with you. You’ll each hear the presentations differently, and you’ll have many thoughtful conversations based on what you’ve learned. Having both of you attend TAP together is far better than bringing home a stack of TAP paper and trying to share everything you’ve learned over dinner.
You’ve probably heard this before, but now is the time to clean up your records. If you’ve been
er, I mean, overlooking a potentially disqualifying medical or physical condition, then get it documented in your medical records now.
When you’re back from deployment, visit your local VA clinic or office’s Veteran Service Officer for an appointment to review your record. (They also do a limited review at TAP.) That’ll get you started on what additional documentation might be necessary. You'll be using the VA's Benefits Delivery Discharge during your military retirement physical. The VSO will ask you questions about things that you haven't thought of in years, and they can help you get the right documents in the right places in the right records.
Be aware that the retirement physical is only the military's official check for undiagnosed surprises before you leave active duty. (DoD doesn't want to dump these surprises on the VA.) If you have any additional questions about a physical condition or a medical symptom then ask it on the screening form, and make sure that the medical staff follows up with the additional referrals to specialists. It's not easy and it's certainly not fun, but it's far easier to handle this stuff on active duty than it is to do it with the VA (or Tricare) after you retire. My personal example involved an allergy screening test (skin scratches) and an exam of my nasal passages with a fiber-optic scope. Both were highly unpleasant (let alone the medical bureaucracy) but they definitely fell into the category of "things I wish I'd known a decade ago."
If you need specific items listed in your DD-214 (for example, documentation that you’re qualified to supervise the operation & maintenance of naval nuclear power systems) then talk with your personnel staff to see whether your service record (and your service’s personnel database) already has what it needs in it for the DD-214 software to populate that part of the form. The personnel staff don’t know what additional items you might need to fit into your DD-214, and the software might not automatically add it. I had to spend six months with the Navy’s BUPERS database wonks waiting for them to update an obscure database with my nuke history so that I had the right code added to the DD-214. Your personnel staff might not have the system access to add that info on their own.
I’d talk more about your Skillbridge plans with the Linkedin group “Veteran Mentor Network.” (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4466143/
) They’re the people who can tell you what they wish they’d known, and some of them run their corporation’s Skillbridge programs. You’ll also be able to review topics like buffing up your Linkedin profile:
The Skillbridge program can be tremendously valuable if you view it as an extended career interview through informational networking. VMN will help you turbocharge that.
This is a ridiculously complex chart of the 12-month countdown to military retirement. I’m not suggesting that you need to follow it. Instead I’d read through it on the chance that there’s something in the checklist that you haven’t thought of yet.
I don’t know much about the VetsFirst program, but they have another example of an incredibly detailed separation guide at their site:
Military Separation Guide | VetsFirst
Again, it’s way more info than you probably need (let alone care about) but it’s worth reading through it to add items to your own list.
If you’re planning to travel then I’d recommend Stephanie Montague’s Poppin’ Smoke site:
Military Separation Guide | VetsFirst
She and her military-retiree spouse have been perpetual travelers for over five years now. When the military Space A program restarts (2022?) she’ll be among the first to spread the news.
Of course you can ask us more questions here, or send me a PM. You can search more keywords at The-Military-Guide, and my books are in the military base libraries and public libraries in all formats.