“Why are you getting out?” This has got to be the number one question people have for transitioning officers… whether it’s your chain of command, peers, or potential employers, inquiring minds want to know!
When talking to your boss, I’d recommend honesty, with social tact. With your peers, you can be more candid. But with potential employers, tread carefully. Don’t take it as an opportunity to slam the military. Express gratitude for the opportunities and what you’ve learned, but focus on why a post-military career truly interests you, will fulfill you, and meets your needs better than the military could.
Officers are leaving the military at a high rate for a number of reasons. In one poll, 82% of veterans said they left the military because of “frustration with military bureaucracy.” But there are even more stated reasons to list…
These include (in no particular order):
- multiple deployments (high OPTEMPO)
- increasing marketability/higher salary opportunities
- lack of incentive/motivation to outperform peers in military
- poor career management by branch during time in military
- want more stability for family life/personal life
- in search of meritocracy over bureaucracy (9 of 10 officers said they’d stay if the Army was a meritocracy)
- lack of innovation, lack of reward for creativity/initiative
- dissatisfaction with senior leadership/policy/overseas missions
- better location choices
- want to be more influential, make more decisions
- quality of life
- education opportunities
You certainly aren’t the only one out there consideration a change in career.
You don’t owe anyone a complete answer as to why you are leaving the military, though they will ask. But you do owe YOURSELF a good answer, because if you don’t know why you’re getting out, you are jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Gather your thoughts and make sure you’re making the right decision for yourself and your family.
Articles on this Topic:
“Why Our Best Officers are Leaving” by Tim Kane, The Atlantic (2011) *This article was circulated heavily via Facebook/email among my peers!*
“Today’s Junior Army Officers” by U.S. Army CPT Tim Hsia, Small Wars Journal (2008)
“The Army’s Other Crisis” by Andrew Tilghman, The Washington Monthly (2007)
“Young Officers Leaving Army at a High Rate” by Thom Shanker, NY Times, (2006)