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How to Put a Military Discharge Status on a Resume

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One school of thought maintains that military service members should avoid focusing on their military experience while crafting a civilian resume. On the other hand, military training fosters teamwork, leadership and a strong work ethic – skills that lend themselves to successful civilian careers. In addition to listing your military discharge status on your resume, showcase your training, leadership skills and accomplishments. Word your sentences in non-military language that shows you can provide value to a civilian employer.

Brainstorm a list of all details about your military service that might go on your resume. Consider any awards or decorations you may have received, your accomplishments and the highlights of your training. Write down a list of your various skills and responsibilities, particularly responsibilities in any leadership positions you may have held.

Insert a “Military Experience” section in your resume. List your branch of service, date of enlistment, date of discharge and type of discharge. Write down the highest rank you achieved.

Insert bullet points to highlight your training, experience and decorations. Write down your training experience in a way that your potential employers may find comparable to civilian job training. For example, if you completed training with computers, focus on what your computer skills are and how they may benefit your potential employer.

Demilitarize your major accomplishments in a way that demonstrates you can benefit a civilian employer and transfer your skills to a non-military workplace. For example, if you were in a leadership position, write that you fostered team-building. If you received an achievement award, write down why you received it (skip the military jargon) and how your achievements can benefit your potential employer.

Eliminate military experience or training that does not directly relate to or benefit your potential employer. Avoid referring to actual combat experience, because some employers may shy away from references to violence. For example, if you were part of a team that eliminated terrorists, either avoid putting this on your resume or select some aspect of that experience that relates to your potential employer. For example, you might write that you facilitated communication to allow for mission success.


Catherine Chase is a professional writer specializing in history and health topics. Chase also covers finance, home improvement and gardening topics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Skidmore College.

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