Transitioning Into Civilian Life & Life After The Military


*This is a sponsored post by Gillette SkinGuard
in partnership with Gillette's new SkinGuard razor available at Walmart


Meet Derrick. The other half of Simply Ciani. He is the man behind all of our DIY’s and builds, but we have yet to shine a spotlight on him... and while he may hate this, here we go...




Anytime I am explaining Derrick’s personality to someone new, I always say “He is a Marine through and through.” He’s rugged, serious most of the time, with the occasional sarcastic joke and doesn’t take anyone’s you know what. He finds his happiness in boots and jeans and being out in the middle of nowhere. He will lend a helping hand to anyone that needs it and always will have your back. He is a hero in every sense of the word, although he hates being called one. He will put his own life in danger for anyone at anytime and jumps into action. (I have seen this first hand at any accident scene we have witnessed).



Derrick started his 10 year service to the Marine Corps in 2006. He joined because he wanted to do something more with his life, he wanted to serve a purpose. He started his career at Perris Island, then joined the few and the proud at his first duty station in Kings Bay, Georgia as security forces. Two years later he was on his way to an infantry unit at Camp Pendleton, California where he served his next 5 years and where I fell into his life. Literally. (More on that story another time - it’s a funny one) After 3 years of marriage for us, the Marine Corps reassigned him to recruiting duty for 3 years and moved us back to Georgia just 40 miles from where he started his career.



Within his time as a Marine, his body took quite a beating and resulted in 2 full knee surgeries, left him with arthritis and an array of back issues. After 10 years, he felt it was time to put away the uniform, but it was far from an easy decision. Being a Marine was his identity. He was a rare breed and we both worried how life would look after the military.

The transition was difficult. And really, that word should be in all caps, because it was a doozy on both of us. Life in the military comes with its own set of challenges and hurdles to overcome both individually and as a couple, and they are hard as heck, but we made it through. Life after the military brought more than I ever imagined. We both had to get to know ourselves again, and each other. Being in the military, many times, your relationship is put completely on hold and as a spouse, you often get so used to being alone and doing everything alone. It was a huge transition to have a husband who was suddenly present but didn’t know how to be present. (Not by his own fault.)




In his case, he too was so used to being a provider, and gone because of that. When on the journey to find a civilian job, he lost his identity as a Marine and desperately tried to find a job, any job, that would accept his experience. That one proved more difficult than he thought it would be. And when a job didn’t fall into place, he began to spiral out of control with emotions.



I share all of this with his permission, because we both agree that there are so few resources out there for those transitioning out of the military. It can feel isolating, and no one else can relate unless they have gone through it too. That is why we have decided to share more of our story, both sides of it, and be completely open and transparent about the struggles we faced during D’s transition into civilian life.

FROM MY SIDE, AS A SPOUSE:
For so long, I found an identity in “being a military wife”. There is a lot that comes with that title and a standard to uphold. I never agreed with “wearing your husband’s rank” but I do believe that you as a spouse to your military member need to uphold a level of dignity in his honor. You are the other face of the duo that you are and your actions reflect on him and his career. This may sound harsh, but it is the way it is.

My days as a military wife were mostly spent alone, taking care of our children, and doing everything else that needed to be done. I didn’t have a spouse to rely on for helping with bath time or anything for that matter. I don’t mean for any of this to sound negative, but this was our life. You just had to get used to being a solo spouse and parent, for days, weeks, months or even years on end. Their career came first and you knew that from day 1. The other side of military spouse life was filled with unit parties/ meetings/ get-togethers... the majority of your life was centered around your spouse’s career, information about deployments/ training and putting on a happy face when you felt at your limit some days. It was tough, but those were some of the best years I have to look back on. I was made stronger as a mother, a wife and a woman because of it. And I will always be proud of my Marine.

When D’s career came to an end, I also lost that identity. Suddenly all of my military wife friends, I emotionally felt disconnected from. The best way I can describe this is when you get kicked out of a club. Not that they stopped talking to me or anything along those lines (because they are all amazing and we still are all friends!) but because you suddenly are living a very different life and no longer can relate or support each other on certain levels like you did previously. I felt myself feeling very isolated and lost. I had a husband who was spiraling, for his own reasons, and I had no idea how to support him, or “fix it”.

It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of phone calls to those military wife friends of mine for support and advice in that first year of civilian life. But eventually both he and I found our own way to communicate with each other again and work our way back to a new “us”. I will dive more into all of this in another post, because I feel it is important to share the tools we used to help us, but my main piece of advice is to never give up on each other. Transitioning into civilian life is going to be tough on both partners for different reasons, but you need to both be willing to take a step back and understand you are in it TOGETHER.






FROM HIS SIDE, AS A MILITARY MEMBER:
(In Derrick’s words)
Ask any marine about their transition into civilian life and most won’t want to discuss it, or just skip over the negative stuff and go right to the “everything is great” talk. Myself included. Even writing this that my wife somehow convinced me to write, I don’t know where to even start.

Before getting out of the Marine Corps I saw life after as better, I thought I would be free to have any job that I wanted. I thought I would have my weekends and nights free again. Little did I know then, how different living as a civilian would be.

Fining one good paying job didn’t happen. I spent months searching for a yes but kept getting no’s. I eventually ended up working three lower paying jobs just to make ends meet because that is all I could get.

I am not a man who talks about feelings publicly, but I do agree with my wife when she says that there isn’t much out there for service members to find real life stories about others who have transitioned into civilian life. We want to be a small part in reaching someone who might be struggling.




Transitioning out was harder than I thought it would be, and I was met with the reality that I had a lot of personal issues to face. I was in denial about that for a long time but I knew that my wife wouldn’t be able to help me with that until I helped myself. It was on me to fix it.

I am still working on the things I need to, and most days I still shut down but the key is to learn to lean on your partner. They may not understand exactly what you are going through, but they are there to support you and you have to allow them to. I didn’t do a great job of that at first, and thought I could handle it all on my own. That is what we as men are told to do. But after getting to to edge of my wife at a loss of how to communicate with me and support me, I had to allow myself to let her in.

By doing so our marriage strengthened and we learned how to be partners. Something we had never had due to both living solo for so long.

The transition will likely be difficult but take one day at a time and accept that there are things that you cannot carry just on your own. Lean on your spouse. Lean on a brother. Find someone you can trust and work through it. Eventually all will fall into place, emotions and a job... but it will take time. Just know you are not alone in this journey.

LIFE MOVING FORWARD...
Nearly 2 years have passed since Derrick’s last day in a Marine Corps uniform, but he didn’t fully hang up wearing a uniform for good. After working 3 jobs for about a year, he was hired on as a Police Officer in Georgia and served our community for over a year before we made the decision to chose where we wanted to live and really begin our new lives. Neither one of us felt like Georgia was “home”, it was where the military put us and made the most sense to stay after transitioning out. But it was always just temporary. A few months ago, we made the big decision to take the leap and move back to California to raise our children near family.


With that, came another career change for Derrick, but one thing has remained the same throughout his time in the Marine Corps and life after... and that is his classically shaved head and freshly shaved face daily. No matter what the job, shaving daily is a must for Derrick. Even after the Marine Corps, he attempted to grow out that “freedom beard” yet he only lasted 5 days before caving in and breaking out his Gillette razor. In his own words, “growing hair just didn’t feel right!”.

Gillette has always been D’s razor of choice and even while separated, Gillette products were always a staple in the care packages that I sent to him. Life after the military is no different and Gillette’s new skin guard razor is top of the line! As someone who saves his face and head daily, Derrick explained that this razor just glided over the skin and was surprised at what a close shave this razor gave with no skin irritation. This was top priority for him when searching for a razor since he has highly sensitive skin. Gillette’s new skin guard has unique skin guard bars positioned in between the blades to specifically reduce the “tug and pull” of the hairs and result in a close shave. The precision trimmer on the opposite side is great for hard to reach areas and styling facial hair.




And as a wife who doesn’t love the stubble kisses, I can officially say I give the closeness of this shave two thumbs up! You can find the new Gillette skin guard set or individual products at your local Walmart.

I want to finish up this post by saying that if you or someone you know is struggling with their own civilian life transition, don’t be fearful or hesitant to reach out to us, or anyone you might trust. We all need to be there for each other. Each journey is different, but we are all family in this unique way of life. And remember, you are NOT IN THIS ALONE.

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