Now, THAT was anticlimactic!
Yesterday morning I had my retirement/separation physical. It consisted of me sitting in a doctor’s office while they reviewed my record, made a couple of referrals for small things, but otherwise signed me off as “safe to retire.”
Compared to the intake physical I went through at Jacksonville’s Military Entrance Processing Station 20 years ago…this was a total, complete, and utterly absurd anticlimax. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t a paperwork review and “thank you for your service.” I spent more time waiting to be seen than I was being seen. Of course, it didn’t help that my happy hindquarters arrived nearly an hour early (I misjudged how backed-up traffic on Hampton Blvd. would be yesterday morning).
Still, I guess I should be thankful that some part of this process was easy. Sometimes it feels like it’s harder to get out of the Navy than it was to get in, so I suppose I should be happy my physical was so…well, non-physical.
Still, I almost feel like I was cheated out of something. I can’t help feeling there should have been at least one poke or prod in the whole process. Or maybe I’m just a medical masochist in waiting?
There is still a lot on my calendar to be completed. I’m still job hunting; now that I know (belatedly, but that was addressed a few columns ago) that federal service is largely a non-existent possibility due to federal law that effectively punishes everyone for retiring from the military, I’m blitzing the civilian sector. Hopefully something will pop up soon.
I still have to go to PSD (the big personnel office) to make my appointment with them. Need to go to legal and update my will, do a metric butt ton more thrift store runs, meet with another realtor to see what they offer in way of selling my house by the end of September, etc.
However, as of now I’m on “permissive house/job hunting” temporary duty orders until August 31. Then on Sept. 1 I roll right into “terminal leave” to burn up my remaining leave time before I actually get out. The big challenge for me is stay productive in some kind of orderly fashion. I love time off with the best of them, but I need structure. By bent of personality type and effect of anxiety disorder, sitting around for longer than a day or two with no plan, routine or structure is a really bad idea. However, now I have to start exercising a latent set of mental muscles. The Navy isn’t going to order my days for me anymore. Time for me to start doing that.
I’ve already established a routine and set of daily requirements for Monday though Friday. Considering the time needed to explore job boards, read job postings, gin-up cover letters and tweak resumes, I reckon a personal requirement two job applications per day is realistic. I can do that most days even when I have to take care of other things. On days where I don’t have other things to worry about, then I can, obviously, spend more time job seeking.
I’m planning on being up no later than 8:00 every morning during the week and in bed by midnight. After breakfast that 8:30 – 12:30 block will be dedicated to job seeking. After that I’ll grab lunch and then, depending on the day, hit the gym, continue the thrift store runs, and writing. I’m way behind on my Isaac Shepherd mysteries. I have to finish The Hanged Man and the roll right into August’s story while mapping out the final story for September. Twice a week I’ll go into NPASE East to check email, keep them updated on my status, and, in September, start the formal check out process.
That’s one key to maintaining sanity during this kind of transition, especially as a single person with no family routine to fall back on: establishing some form of normal “working hours” for yourself. It’s hard enough mentally to get into the habit of planning your own time all day every day after 20 years of military duty. There’s no need to let feelings of being lost, alone and unsure pile up through lack of discipline. Relaxing the discipline of Navy life is not the same thing as abandoning it.
This idea doesn’t just apply to me or someone like me with real-world mental health issues. Anyone facing a major life change (like military retirement) needs to establish some form of daily routine they can plan on, even if the ultimate goal is to slide into that final retirement where one doesn’t have to work anymore (a goal I still have about 30 years before I reach).
Even if I have to move back in with my folks in Florida temporarily, I’ll keep this plan up. However, if that happens I’ll add to it. There are a few museums around Eglin AFB I can volunteer at. That alone will provide activity, continue to build my resume, and keep me from going stir crazy.
Still, I’d prefer to have a job lined up that I can start in October. I’ve been focusing on Florida this week. Public affairs, social media management, training management, etc. Next week I’ll broaden out again and start looking in other states like Texas, bu this week is Florida. If I can find the work, I really would like to go home.