On ETSing and Getting Out of the Military
ETSing, this stands for expiration – term of service. An ETS date is the last day of the service member’s contract. ETSing can happen for many different reasons. A service member might choose not to re-enlist, they may have to get out for medical reasons, the service member is going to retire from the Military or when they are forced out earlier than they had planned.
My husband went through ETSing in 2014. Almost 2.5 years have gone by since that day and we have been working towards our new after Army normal ever since. My husband is still in the Army, he joined the Guard the day after he got out of active duty. We also still live at our last duty station. Because of this, we are still a military family, can still shop at the Commissary and can relate to a lot of what Active duty families experience.
However, there are differences. We pay for our Insurance, we are not always included in everything Active duty is, my husband usually puts on his uniform once a month, we will not be PCSing anytime soon and we would not be allowed to live on post here.
Over the last 2.5 years, we have had to navigate these post-active duty waters the best way that we know how. There have been moments when I have wondered if he should have stayed in. There are times I am glad he did get out when he did. There are also a lot of emotions that you go through when making this change.
If your spouse is going to be ETSing soon or you guys are talking about going that way, you will need to prepare yourself a bit. Life after the military isn’t a picnic. Life after an ETS can be very stressful. However, for a lot of people, ETSing is the best choice. Whether they have been serving in the active duty military for 3 years or 20.
Here are some things to think about when you ETS:
- Finding Their Place- After being in the military for many years, finding a place in the civilian world can be difficult. Some military jobs work well outside the military and others are harder to transition from. Finding your place after the military can take longer than you think it might and won’t happen overnight.
- Where to Live- You have a big decision to make before your ETS. Where will you live? If you live on post, you will have to move. If you don’t, you could stay, but would you want to? You and your spouse will need to talk about your options and where you want to be.
- Medical Worries- When you leave active duty, your insurance is going to change. This can be a big difference from what you are used to. From having to pay a certain amount per month to paying more when you go to appointments. Ideally, one of you will have a job with good insurance but that doesn’t always happen. As much as a headache Tricare can be, you will probably miss it when it is gone.
- Jobs- Finding a good job after the military is important. If your spouse that is leaving the military can find a good job right away, that is great but the job search can be difficult for some people. Even after finding a job, it might not be the right one and can take a while to get there. Looking for jobs before the ETS is a good idea and can help your service member have a more smooth transition once they do ETS.
- Missing Active Duty- After your ETS you and your spouse might start to miss parts of Active duty life. This is true even if you couldn’t wait until they got out. The lifestyle, the regular paychecks, the security, etc. Saying goodbye to all of that can be difficult. After some time you will get more used to being away from the Military. Give yourself some time and know it is okay to mourn leaving the military after you have moved on.
Getting out of the military is a big transition. You will have to get used to your new life. Just like when you first started this military journey, it will take some time and patience before you figure out how that post-military life is going to look and how everything is going to work out.