There are five military branches, each with its own unique mission, and within each branch there’s a multitude of military career classifications to consider when thinking about a career in the Armed Services. Due to the fact that not all branches offer the same opportunities, choosing a military branch and career requires careful consideration and planning.
Like so many young adults in their early 20s, Kristi didn’t know where she was going in life. She didn’t know how to get plugged into where she could best use the strengths, talents, and passions. She recalls needing direction and structure to help get her on a path to flourish. Kristi May’s choice of joining the Army was rooted in her lifelong passion to be a veterinarian. With due diligence, she found that no other branch offered a career in caring for the health of animals.
Kristi says “the Army helped me get out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things I would have never done by myself. I needed more than academics and the Army gave it to me. The Army increased my leadership capacity. I worked at a brigade level writing and enforcing policy.
My Most Rewarding Military Experience & Transition to Civilian Life
“By special permission, I became a certified Army instructor, a role that only Non-Commissioned Officers could have. I built programs, taught classes, and was assigned to a company where I moved up to a higher position. I was an E-4 working at a brigade level doing a humanitarian mission.”
“I was called to be part of a mission that was bigger than self.”
After voluntarily serving for eight years at Ft. Campbell, Kristi was honorably discharged from the Army. Transitioning into the civilian life wasn’t as difficult for Kristi as it is for many. Kristi gives credit for her successful transitioning experience to obtaining a job at the VA through a work study program. For almost one year, and while going to school, Kristi’s civilian job helped other veterans find jobs. She says that her transition was smoother because she kept herself busy with school and she worked to help her fellow veterans.
Kristi attributes her ability to mentor and provide training services to the people skills she developed in the Army. She said, “I didn’t have good soft skills with dealing with people. The Army took care of me and grew me, and now I want to pass on that same care for others by taking care of my team and my clients.”
Today, Kristi is the owner of Legend Acres, a unique disabled veteran owned business offering professional dog and horse training. To help ease the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and psychiatric conditions that some veterans experience, Kristi offers service dog training to help veterans overcome their symptoms.
Kristi’s Wisdom for Transitioning Veterans and Employers
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For transitioning veterans, Kristi says, “Get connected. The greatest difficulty is doing it by yourself. Once you get out, the structure is gone. To navigate the civilian living, you must get connected at a local veteran service organization. They can get you plugged in to use your GI bill and other resources.”
"Just do it! You don’t know if you like it if you haven’t experienced it!"
For the employer, Kristi says, “Veterans can be self-starters. They don’t need to have the same structure they knew in the military because they are adaptable. They are willing to learn new things and change to accomplish the mission you have.