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Veterans have a tough transition from military to civilian life

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By Virginia Backaitis | New York Post

For anyone who has recently left the military, it can be a tough moment when it’s time to take off the uniform. It feels as if part of your identity comes off with you.

“It can feel psychologically devastating,” says Army veteran Richard Jones. But it is something that you can triumph over and a point from which you can find new heights, according to Jones.

And Jones knows of what he speaks. Having suffered fractures to his legs, coccyx, lumbar and cervical vertebrae after a parachute malfunction during an airborne-assault training exercise, he enrolled in college, graduate school and then some.

Jones’ transition consisted of going from what he calls “a bag of bones,” to connecting with a network of veterans who “looked out for me,” to becoming the executive vice president, general tax counsel and chief veteran officer at CBS in Midtown.

Transitioning from the service to the workplace isn’t easy, according to Jones. The simplest of things — like calling your boss something other than “sir” or “ma’am” — requires an adjustment. Ditto for recognizing that in the workplace it’s as much about collaboration as it is about taking orders. “You must adjust how you interact to ensure success,” he says.

Marine Corps veteran and infantryman Tim Williamson of Toms River, NJ, knows what Jones is talking about. One of the tips he offers new vets is: “Add the word ‘no’ back into your vocabulary.”

Williamson explains, “In the military, you are trained to say ‘yes’ to everything, and you always accept your orders, but that isn’t always the case in the corporate world. Eventually, you will wind up being assigned other people’s projects and tasks because they know that if they ask you, you will say always say ‘yes.’ ”

Saying “no” does not mean you’re …

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