My home before the Army was Columbia, South Carolina. Joining the Army as a first career came naturally because nearly all the men in my family for two or three generations served in the military. I wanted to start out as an officer in the Army. Still, when I submitted my application in 2001 to West Point, I wasn’t certain that’s what I wanted for college.
To be honest, I didn’t intend on going to West Point. However, I needed a challenge. Their promised investment in my development and their high expectations spurred me forward. I was a long way from home, but classmates and my faith got me through Plebe year. Upon joining the sky diving team, I discovered that I’d found another family. Our adventures took us through steam tunnels, off bridges and phone towers, to Arizona’s desert and Florida’s coast; not forgetting days full of free fall. Almost a decade past graduation, our unique bond remains
When I left West Point in May 2009, I was excited about my Army Aviation career. I wanted to deploy as a pilot in command and lead a company. I had to save lives and travel the world. Thankfully, my four years of jumping from helicopters led me to Army Aviation and Ft Rucker, Alabama.
During that time, there was this sublime feeling that everything was falling into place. I was finally doing life “right.” It was during this time in Alabama, I met my wonderful wife. Imagine this, we met on Valentine’s Day, started dating on St Patrick’s Day, and we were married before Halloween. We took a bold step forward; we uprooted to start our lives together on foreign soil. We moved to Korea, once I was done with flight school. We traveled Asia, ate superb food, and started growing up together. We thought it was the perfect way to start our life together.
It’s amazing the events which cause deep introspection. For me, it was when we brought our first son into the world.
Bear with my reference as I attempt to explain this moment of inspiration. After the birth of my son, I reflected upon a scene in the movie “Fight Club”. In the movie, Ed Norton and Brad Pitt compare their dysfunctional experiences with their fathers to God. That’s when it hit me: I can either represent and reflect God’s awesome love for my children or ruin it. Imagine the incredible responsibility I now had! How was I going to provide this perfect love? Surely, it’s impossible! But I had to try. I was scared but determined to figure it out with God’s help.
However, I also had to do my duty and was actively engaged in several military activities. A few of my military career highlights include platoon leader in Korea, deployment to Kosovo, as well as operations officer in charge and flight company commander in Japan.
While on assignment in Japan, we were blessed again, this time with a daughter. Ultimately, in 2017, it was time to venture from the Army. This was primarily because I had completed what I’d wanted to accomplish in the Army. Additionally, my growing family needed stability. I was filled with this desire to set down roots and really grow in the business world. I transformed my life from service member to civilian as a Captain in the US Army after 8 years of commissioned service.
I wish I could say that the change from military to civilian was an easy one. Instead, it was a great deal more challenging than I originally anticipated. The task was daunting and the possibilities endless. There was abundant excitement and anxiety, but I knew that I needed help to master this crazy process. Therefore, I attended an ADU workshop.
It was amazing to hear all the stories these mavens could tell! It was challenging and immediately I wished to be a part of the ADU revolution. I hounded one of them for an internship. My persistence paid off and found myself working with Joe Desena to set up the first Spartan Race in Japan. Blood, sweat, and tons of mud later, we had 5,000 smiling Spartan faces in Tokyo. What an experience! I even got to give back to ADU as a keynote speaker, telling other service members in Japan about internship opportunities under DOD Skillbridge. Upon completion, my family and I were on a flight back to the USA.
That first season of my re-initiation to civilian life was a humbling experience for me. I struck out my first round of interviews. Scoreboard: 0 for 7. It baffled me! I had a recruiter, a new suit and training for interviews. Back in Japan, I’d been an ADU speaker – but in the job hunt, I completely blew it. This cost me a few weeks of unemployment.
It was this initial taste of failure which ultimately inspired me to seek more help. I was not alone as I had thought myself to be. There were others like me out there. I decided to rely on my network. I hit LinkedIn and Veterati hard! I practiced phone interviews with dozens of strangers on the Veterati platform. I had weekly calls with one mentor, Brent Mague. Together we completely evolved my interview skills and techniques.
The network paid off. This second time around at a hiring conference the score was 8 for 9! But, I didn’t even go to the second interviews for those 8 interviews that I won, because another even better opportunity came from my network out of the blue. It was the networking and the GIVING BACK TO MY NETWORK that ultimately ended up in my first job FINDING ME!
By using an alternative perspective, I was able to achieve a successful transformation to the civilian workforce. Now, I have so much to be thankful for. I’ve got a new son, born in a new town. We reside with a beautiful church community. I’ve got an opportunity to show a new company what veterans can bring to the table. I hope to help others show their future employers the same by supporting platforms like ADU, Veterati, and HireMilitary.us. If you are a veteran, and you want any help, please look me up on Veterati and I’ll be overjoyed to help you along the way.