A little planning, a lot of satisfaction post military

MilSuccessNet invites you to follow the passage of CW4 (RET.) Shaun M. Collins from military career to civilian roles and new missions. We continue from part 1 and  so today we discover:

  • Alphabet soup  that spells out a 23 year career path 
  • Retirement applied for, delayed, manifested 
  • Education moves from pupil to teacher  
  • Planning well for an unfettered future

…and now in his own words…..we continue from part 1  

Shaun Collins

Shaun M. Collins


I spent the remaining 23 years of my career as a CID Special Agent and had the opportunity to attend FBI, DEA and other Federal Law Enforcement training courses.

Despite the success I was having within the military, I was still intent on taking my skill sets to the civilian sector. However, by the time I had achieved 10 years of service, I had been selected for both Sergeant First Class and Warrant Officer Candidate School.

My civilian counterparts were all GS-13s at the journeyman level and I knew if I got out, I could make more money. What I could not  quite reconcile though, was the idea of not being a Soldier anymore. I decided to stay in until I hit 20 years of service and would therefore be eligible for retirement.

I took the path of becoming a Warrant Officer. We did not have O-Grade officers who were agents and I no longer wanted to do anything else, but I was dead-set on getting out as soon as I could.

Retirement – I applied for it three times before it was to actually happen. Much to my surprise, those few extra years more than doubled my retirement pay. As a result, I strongly urge every service member to plan their career. Use informed and educated decision-making processes, rather than the arbitrary milestones I had originally set out to meet.

I gained great and daily gratification from the feeling that I was making a difference in the lives of others. I knew I was helping those  who needed help every day, but as I rose in rank, my role began to transition.

For the first 10 or so years of my career, I was the pupil, the one who was doing the nug-work-where the rubber met the road. However, the remainder of my career, was my opportunity to give back by developing newer and younger Soldiers and Agents.

My last four assignments were as the Special Agent in Charge of different CID Offices and as a TRADOC instructor, where I was responsible for training current and future senior CID supervisory agents.

The ‘teacher’ portion of my professional identity eventually grew deep roots and overshadowed that of a Soldier and an Agent – that was when I knew it was time to retire.

I still loved teaching. It allowed me to challenge others to become more effective critical thinkers and ethical leaders. But, I felt I could best continue to contribute to America’s future force by writing professional articles, columns and teaching. I was prepared to also serve by being available as a reference for others, should they choose to call on me.

In my mind’s eye, our success as members of the military and as leaders is not what we achieve, but rather, what our subordinates achieve. When they start to accomplish things far beyond your own accomplishments, you can consider yourself a successful leader.

box with question marksSITREP –-> Editor’s view on the tips that Shaun M. Collins shares below, in his words:

Currently, I primarily teach the Master Army Profession and Ethics Training Course as a contracted instructor for the Praevius Group. This is in support of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), based out of West Point, NY.

However, since my retirement, I have written / updated Army doctrinal publications, taught college at the graduate level and have volunteered much of my time to help others succeed in their challenging endeavors.

My wife and I are aspiring authors, who plan to write and publish several books on a wide array of topics.

Because we invested well, paid off our bills as we went and both retired as CW4s, we no longer have to seek employment opportunities.

We are able to live comfortably on our current income, but everything we make from projects we opt to involve ourselves in is merely icing on the cake that helps us enjoy life more comfortably.

We are looking forward to sharing some of our ideas and the tools that allowed us to retire in our 40s. And to be able to enjoy that retirement without the need for a second career as we continue to collaborate with the Military Success Network.




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