Today’s military is known as an all-volunteer force. However, when we separate from the military, we may not even think about continuing to serve our country by being a volunteer in the civilian world.
Although you may find a job immediately after separating, today it’s more likely that you will have to begin the process of job hunting all over again. This is where volunteering becomes crucial; it can open many doors for you.
After separating from the military and finishing my bachelor’s degree, I realized that entering a new career field without much experience would not be easy in this competitive job market.
While looking in the local newspaper, I stumbled upon a small advertisement for The Soldiers Project, a nonprofit organization that gives free and confidential counseling to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Since I was entering the field of counseling, I realized this could be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door.
Being a volunteer can help you network with key people in key positions, add to your résumé, gain more knowledge about current events in your field of choice, and give back to the community.
Volunteering is a great choice whether you’re considering changing career fields, looking to advance in the field you’re working in today, or just have some free time and would like to give back. And most of the time it will not take much time away from your life — you can determine when you have the time to help, and how much time you have to contribute.
If you have children, volunteering can be beneficial for them, too. You can even volunteer as a family. Volunteering allows kids to not only give to their community, but it also gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
And if your child is a college student, he may find that volunteering works better with his schedule than an internship. Be sure to have your son or daughter inquire about volunteer opportunities on campus.
I figure if I can waste an hour sitting around watching TV, then I can spend an hour volunteering — helping others who need support and appreciate every bit of it. So don’t overlook this opportunity to help your career and others in your community at the same time.
Steven Maieli is the founder of http://transitioningveteran.com/, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress.
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