Purpose: This paper aims to investigate issues affecting the integration of retired military officers into civilian work using a competence model as an analytical framework. Design/methodology/approach: The paper combines literature review with empirical study. The primary method of data collection was a series of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 25 retired army officers in Lithuania. Findings: Despite evidence that a career as an officer in the military develops valuable competencies that have obvious potential in the civilian labour market, the integration of retired army officers into the civilian labour market is fraught with difficulties. Apart from the obvious inappropriateness of specific competencies associated with armed combat for civilian occupations, even competencies acquired in military service that align closely with those required in civilian jobs do not necessarily translate because of different contexts and different value systems. Research limitations/implications: The empirical basis is limited to army officers in Lithuania, and the authors urge caution in extrapolating to other military personnel and other countries. To the extent that the approach has generic value, there are clearly implications for demobilisation after major conflicts or return to civilian life of personnel involved in international peace-keeping. Practical implications: This exploratory research suggests that a competence framework can identify limits and possibilities of aligning competencies acquired in military service with those required in civilian occupations, provided context and values are incorporated as part of the analysis. The approach piloted in this paper could be useful more widely for facilitating mobility between sectors and occupations arising from the adoption of disruptive technologies. Originality/value: The paper demonstrates the value of a structured approach to comparing competencies in context and the mediating role of values in moving from military to civilian occupations.