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Transitioning to Civilian Life and Work: Featuring AWRC/NAC/AW Josh Avery


SkillMil had the opportunity to interview Chief Naval Air Crewman Josh Avery and learn about his time in the US Navy and adjustment to the civilian world since retirement.


AWRC/NAC/AW Avery served in the Navy for 24 years and was stationed in Jacksonville, FL, San Diego, CA, and Norfolk, VA. His daily duties as a helicopter sensor operator involved maintaining the radar, sonar, and electronic detection of the maritime aircraft, and he also served as a rescue swimmer.


In July 2018, he decided it was time to transition to civilian life. Upon retirement, he began working as the Dean of Students at an aviation school house and was able to transition into employment right away. Before retirement, Avery did his homework and networking and among other options, he chose the aviation school because of the location and quality of life that it would provide.


Avery was accustomed to the work and procedures at the aviation school, because he had attended military school and at each job change in the military, he transitioned through similar schoolhouses. He also states that the military prepared him for his current career in many ways. To name a few, because of his service in the Navy, he was familiar with the standard operating procedures of a military facility, the language, procedures, culture, and expectations both in behavior and academic performance.


He was surprised to find out after transitioning from his time in the military, just how important networking is. Networking helped him get the job he has now and helps him stay engaged with other retired veterans. He was also surprised to see experience the difference in the civilian workforce culture. In the military, his peers, seniors, and juniors would take care of each other, and in civilian life, he doesn't see that as much.


A big challenge in transition from a job standpoint, has been getting used to the increased taxes! Managing work time has also been difficult, because in the military he didn't punch a clock, but was on "the adult program - you do what you’re supposed to do, and no one micromanages," but the civilian workforce is more stringent with time and task management.

When asked about programs that helped during transition, Avery was very complimentary of and grateful for Onward to Opportunity, a free program for transitioning vets. O2O is funded by the Schultz Family Foundation, and provides free education, training and job certification. Avery completed a project management certification course through O2O, which out-of-pocket could easily cost around $7000. O2O also provided an accelerated training program called Cohort Week, which taught service members to take all their skills and experience from their military time, and build a resume, practice interviews, negotiate salaries, and be better prepared to enter the workforce.


The advice that AWRC Avery has for veterans when applying for jobs is to focus on conveying military lessons gained, such as attention-to-detail, punctuality, reliability, trustworthiness, fellowship, and watching out for each other. Even if the job skills don't exactly match the job performed in the service, there are plenty of character markers and values that make vets better fit for many positions.


He also advises that retiring vets rely on fellow veterans who have already transitioned, especially if they've had obvious success making it back into civilian life. Avery recommends taking advantage of all the vet benefits provided by the military and private organizations such as the VA, advocate services like O2O, and the GI Bill.


Avery concludes that a service like SkillMil provides peace of mind for transitioning veterans, knowing that there is a service advocating for a successful re-entry that can help make that next step.

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