How to Get Out of the Navy

by Maggie O'Leary

Joining the Navy is a big decision. Individuals join the Navy for many reasons. You may be one of the many sailors who have joined the Navy and find that your career isn't going as planned. You may be looking for a way out of your service commitment, but the military is not an at-will employer. Once you commit to military service, there is no quick or easy way out. You will be expected to serve your entire commitment. While you cannot just leave the military if you are dissatisfied, several options are available to you to help you improve your situation.

Finish your enlistment or officer service commitment. This is the easiest way to get out of the Navy, and the method that will have the fewest negative consequences for you later in civilian life. Taking the easy way out (such as leaving the Navy without permission or committing a fraudulent act, such as lying about your mental health or sexual preference) can lead to a bad discharge, monetary penalties and even jail time. Options are available to you to enable you to finish your service commitment honorably.

Speak to your commanding officer about a transfer to another unit, ship or base. In many instances, dissatisfaction with the Navy can be due to a negative work situation. Transfer options may be available to you that you are unaware of, and your commander or personnel office can inform you of your choices.

Explore your options in another Navy career field. Your dissatisfaction with the Navy may be rectified by moving to another job. If you are ineligible to retrain, consider a special-duty assignment, such as recruiting, becoming a detailer for others in your career field or working as an instructor at Great Lakes or one of the Navy's many A and C schools. These special-duty assignments may also enable you to move closer to your hometown, and make you happier about your choice to join the Navy. You can speak with your detailer or personnel office about these options.

Transfer to the Navy Reserve. If you are currently serving on active duty with the Navy, it may be possible to end your active-duty service commitment early by transferring to the Navy Reserve. In the Navy Reserve, you can serve on a part-time basis, with a service commitment that usually consists of one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. You may also have an opportunity to serve as an active Navy Reservist, which allows you to work full-time at a Navy Reserve Center. Speak to a Navy Reserve recruiter to find out if this option is available to you.

Speak with your unit about resigning your commission, if you are a commissioned officer in the Navy. You may have options to be released from your service commitment early. Sometimes these options include monetary penalties, especially if the Navy paid for your college education. Your commanding officer or personnel office can tell you more about this option.

About the Author

Based in Oklahoma, Maggie O'Leary has been writing professionally since 2001. O'Leary has served in the United States military since 1997 and is a two-time OIF veteran. She has been published in several local military and civilian newspapers and national media outlets including "The Washington Post" and CNN. O'Leary has a Bachelor of Arts in history and legal studies.