It Wasn’t Only a Job But An Adventure for this Sailor!
Hello my name is Johnny Quezada, the director of Special Projects and Military Affairs here at LATINA Style, Inc. I recently retired from the United States Navy after serving 30 years of honorable service. I hail from El Paso, Texas and graduated from Bowie High School in 1984. I joined the United States Navy with my Twin Brother “Angel” right after high school and we both had amazing careers.
My career started as an enlisted sailor and lasted 16 years before being selected and appointed a Naval Officer under the Limited Duty Officer “Mustang” program. My career as a Naval Officer lasted 14 years before my mandatory retirement. My job description during my enlisted years was an Administrative Yeoman or Clerk, and my final close out rank was as Master Chief Yeoman (YNCM). As an officer, my job description was Administrative Department Head and I retired as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR).
For me a career in the U.S. Navy was a dream come true. I always told people that I was “Living a Dream, Just Living a Dream!” In the Navy, I travel the world and visited more than 40 countries, had my education paid for and worked alongside the most dedicated and remarkable people in the world. I would not change my experience in the past 30 years for anything or anyone.
My goal in this platform is to talk about my experience transition from the military to my next chapter in life, my “civilian life.” I believe that my administrative background while in the Navy, helped make my transition to civilian life a little less painful than other people might experience. For some individuals it is very difficult and confusing because of the amount of paperwork required to submit, and not knowing who to ask or where to find any of the information. Also, I believe that for some who joined the military right after high school just like myself, and after 30 years of military service, things might look confusing and scary because of the unknown. You start thinking ‘What I’m I going to do, where do I start, will I get a job right away, do I want to start all over again,’ these are some of the ideas that start going through your head, so it can seem scary.
Transitioning to civilian life for my family and I has not been very difficult because I started planning for my retirement a year in advance. First, you really need to start the process for transitioning at least a year in advance, if you’re able to start earlier the more advantages it will be in the long run. I attended two pre-separation seminars provided by the military; these seminars are mandatory and very informative at times and will help guide you through the transition period.
Second, I started saving my vacations days and by the end of my official retirement date, I had saved up to 65 days plus the additional 20 days the military allows you to have for house and job hunting. This brought my total of 85 days to decompress. Let me tell you, I enjoyed every day with my family and was able to decompress from 30 years of military service.
Third is saving money. If you haven’t already started saving money, now is the time to save extra cash because you don’t know when your next paycheck will come. Also, the final year is the time to start cutting down on expense and not increasing. The more you cut down in spending the last year of military service the better off you will be, I promise you that.
Fourth, is starting documenting all your medical issues. I know that during my career, I hated complaining and going to the hospital, well that has to change at least one year prior to your retirement. You have to ensure any health issue is documented at least twice in your medical record and ensure the Doctor has diagnosed the medical issue and documented in your medical record. This is very important so when you submit for Disability with the Veterans Administration (VA) that you’re properly compensated for your disability. I know that some of you feel that nothing is hurting right now, but let me tell you, my body is starting to break down more now that I have retired. So be smart and get your medical problems documented.
I guess this will be all for now, but I will continue to write about my transition experience from military service to civilian life.
Johnny Quezada USN (Ret) is the director of Special Projects and Military Affairs at LATINA Style, Inc. With over 30 years of experience in the administrative, financial, executive level management, and military services, Quezada oversees the National LATINA Symposium and the LATINA Style HERO Initiative, two programs hosted by LATINA Style aimed to honor Latinas serving in the Armed Forces and help military veterans and transitional active duty members reintegrate and assimilate into Corporate America. For more information on the programs visit www.latinastyle.com