Retiring major struggling to translate ‘watching YouTube on gov’t computer’ into civilian skillset

ARLINGTON, Va. — Preparing to transition into civilian life after 20 years in uniform, retiring Army Maj. Derek Fletcher was struggling to translate the skills he learned in the Army, like watching YouTube videos on a government computer, into a civilian skillset.

"My time in the Army prepared me for a lot of the challenges I'll face in the civilian world, like drinking an entire pot of coffee before 1100, schmoozing with the other field grades in the office next door for six hours a day, and strategically scheduling my medical appointments during the few hours a month I'm expected to do work," said Fletcher. "But even with all this dynamic military experience on my résumé, I haven't gotten bites from any employers yet."

Fletcher says he hopes to land a well-paying, low-responsibility government civilian job, ideally in a hard-charging military organization with no accountability and zero expectations of productivity. But even with over ten years of experience claiming credit for work his subordinates did, it has been tough to get his foot in the door.

"Unfortunately, a lot of transitioning servicemembers are forced to take a temporary step back in their career when they transition to civilian life," said career coach Stacy Verona. "Many soldiers in Maj. Fletcher's situation have to go from doing absolutely nothing all day and being paid for it to doing absolutely nothing all day and being paid slightly less."

"What's more, if they land a job as a contractor they might even have to do something on occasion."

On the bright side, Verona says, most veterans can work their way back to previous pay and uselessness levels within three to five years.

"If you just stick with it, you can be collecting two retirements in no time," she said. "It should be every veteran's goal to maximize how much they can suckle from the taxpayer's teat."