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My Transition from the Army.

by Brian Pehrson about a year ago in veteran
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Part 1

Serving in the United States Army for the last 20 years 5 months and 18 days has been the most amazing experience of my life (so far). Are there moments I regret…. of course! Did I form amazing lifelong bonds with people…of course! I experienced so much that I could probably write a series of articles on that as well. However, this piece is on how I successfully (kind of) handled my transition from the Army.

My last duty station was the historic Military Academy at West Point. I was the First Sergeant for the West Point Military Police Honors Company. One of three First Sergeants on the entire installation. I had the honor and privilege of serving with some of the best-enlisted Soldiers and commissioned Officers I have ever seen. I was confident and I KNEW where I fit into every puzzle. I KNEW how things were supposed to be. Let's be real though, 20 years of being in the Army and had conditioned me to be a very functional cog in the Army wheel! I was the cog, I was that leader, I was the Soldier. I was all in.

Then things changed. My time for retirement arrived. I was ready. I think.

Ok so if you have not served in the United States Military (including the coast guard) there is a mandatory, multifaceted class, on how to successfully transition called the DoDTAP ( These classes cover everything from potential benefits and how to apply for them, resume, writing, interviews, education, and entrepreneurship. Ok, so some of these may seem strange, like writing a resume class. Here is a trade secret though….in the military we do not EVER write a resume. Most of us have no clue how to do that.

Ok, let's get back to me.

I started these classes and I had my plan. It was solid as a plan could be. I was considered a tier 1 transitioning Soldier. A tier 1 transitioning Soldier is one that the Army thinks has the lowest chance of suicidal ideations, the best chance for employment or success, and the lowest chance to be homeless.

So, my plan was to retire, use my benefits to pay rent and some bills while my wife became the financial rock in our marriage. Then I was going to start writing a book, clean the house, play some video games and cook every day. So far that is holding true (ish). I married WAY up which makes all that possible. My wife is much more qualified, well-spoken, and intelligent than I am. And I am very ok with that. We were renting this amazing house near a metro stop for my wife and in a great school district. Life was SET!

Here is where the problems come in though. In the Army, there is this superstitious person/thing called "murphy." Murphy strikes when you least expect him to and he RUINS plans.

Remember I said I had that rock-solid plan.

Well two weeks before I was set to do my final out and move out of military housing, we discovered the house we were renting in Virginia was full of mold which my wife was allergic to. By full of mold I mean 29 times higher than what is considered safe. We had to terminate the lease for our family's safety immediately. I had two weeks left in military housing and my wife in Virginia now had no house. Murphy came and gave us a dropkick off the top rope.

We were on the verge of being homeless.

That feeling of possibly not being able to provide for my family…was gut-wrenching. Remember I was the First Sergeant for one of three honors companies in the Army. I was on top of the mountain (well near it). I was a tier 1 transitioning Soldier with nearly zero chance of becoming homeless…. I was about to be homeless. It killed me on the inside. On the outside, I pretended to be ok and have it all under control. On the inside, I was all kinds of scared, anxious, depressed, and fearful I would not be able to provide for my wife and daughter for the first time.


So, my wife and I went in panic mode looking for a new house. No need to describe that cause you have been there right? I mean I think we all have.

We were blessed by God to find a great place for our family fairly quickly though. Literally, on the same day I did my final out we signed the lease for the townhome we are renting. The weight of the world was lifted! We (I) felt like I was climbing back up the mountain. I was going to provide for my family. My solid plan was back baby!

Then the military contracted movers arrived to pack up our house and I jumped on the rollercoaster of emotions transitioning.....


About the author

Brian Pehrson

I am a 38 year old retired Army Military Police Officer. I am married to my absolute best friend and the most amazing, supportive and intelligent woman I know. We have three children and currently live in Virginia.

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