The day you joined the military you selected a MOS but little did you know you were selecting something much more than a job. You were also choosing an identity. Knowing WHO you were is another gift the military gave you. This gift served you well, especially in the Theater of War. When charging into battle, you knew exactly WHO you were. You had no doubt that you were an American War Fighter. Since you were crystal clear that you were an American War Fighter, you also knew exactly what you had to do… fight the war. There was no confusion. You had total clarity WHO you were when you stepped off that plane and your boots hit the sand. It was GO-TIME.

RED ALERT!! Watch out for the Transition Trap. As long as you were in the military you knew exactly WHO you were and what you were about. But all that is about to change. Who are you going to be after the military? When leaving the military your job changes but what happens to your identity?

Your identity is how you see yourself. It’s what you stand for. It’s where you belong. Where you call home. Who your brothers (and sisters) are. With whom you associate and drink beers with.

Your identity is reflected in the way you show up and take care of business. Let’s say for example you enlisted into the infantry. You weren’t any old grunt, oh-no, it’s much more than that for sure. You wanted a Ranger tab. Not just because it was a cool patch, but it tells everyone who you are. After all, you didn’t just buy the patch, you earned it. You were specially selected from among your peers because of your high performance and readiness to grow. You attended specialized training where you endured the beat-down rigors and pushed through your limits into new levels of skill and performance. Now you wear your Ranger tab with pride, signaling to every other soldier you walk past on base that you have achieved a higher level, that you stand out among your peers, you earned the right of passage, that you had joined the upper echelon of Door-Kickers and you are a now a full fledged, card carrying member of the bad-ass club.

Whether you were in the infantry or not, you get the point. It’s just like the saying “you can learn a lot about a man by the shoes he is wearing”. Well, you can learn a lot about a soldier literally by the patches they wear. You see them everywhere. Right shoulder combat patches signal to everyone what unit you fought in combat with. EIB (Expert Infantry Badge) sets you apart from standard infantry. EOD likes to blow stuff up. The green beret. The tan beret. The rank. The unit. Combat action badge. Pilot wings. Air Assault wings. Jump wings. Master Jump wings with a mustard stain. You can also learn a lot about a person by the role they are in like the commander, the first sergeant, the platoon or team leader. It’s WHO you are. It’s your identity.

NEWS FLASH!! You are not a soldier anymore. The environment the military gave you to nurture your identity disappears forever when you get out. The military will become a part of your past. Wearing the uniform will be part of your past. This is your wake-up call.

There are certain elements of your identity that will never die. I get it. ”Once a Marine always a Marine”. Sure, that won’t go away. But you’ll find yourself in an awkward situation if years from now you are still walking around town in your uniform telling people you’re still a Marine.

People never ask WHO ARE YOU, but instead they learn who you are by asking WHAT YOU DO. Think about it. When you meet somebody one of the first things they ask you is… “what do you do?” That’s simply one of the most common ways we learn about somebody when we meet them. Although it’s generalizing, we tend to get a quick picture about somebody as soon as they tell us they are an electrician, an engineer, a teacher, business owner or retired.

Don’t just try to blend in. You are capable of much, much more. After all the skills you developed in the military you can step up in the civilian world and promote yourself to the next level. You have the capabilities to accomplish anything you want after the military. But you’ll go nowhere as long as you are lack identity. You will bounce around like a pinball and you’ll struggle to fit in and survive. It is critical that you decide the next steps for your identity. In order to go after your new HVT (High Value Target) in your life you have to be clear how your identity and how your past military skills evolve. When you are clear about who you are and what you want then you are unstoppable.

Hope that helps!

Nic Transtrum

ARE YOU STUCK?? You shouldn't be after all you did in the military!

  • Identify your next HVT (high value target)....
  • Use your military skills to make an impact...
  • So you can live the freedoms you served to protect!

About Nic Transtum

Nic is a husband, father with 6 girls "oh help us all", adventurer, entrepreneur, author, speaker, coach, Veteran, Blackhawk Pilot- US Army.

Nic has been to war and back on battlefields in the Middle-East...AND he's been to war in life after the military.

The UGLY TRUTH is he struggled deeply for years until he identified his next HVT in life and applied what he learned on the battlefield to achieving personal & business success.

Now he is dedicated to showing other veterans how to win at the next level after the military without struggling like he did... so we can all live the freedoms we fought for!