Transitioning from the military can be extremely challenging. As a Special Operations Officer, I was leading high-performance teams committed to accomplishing the mission. The brotherhood, esprit de corps, and team unity made the job extremely rewarding. When you depart the military, you quickly realize that a new career won’t be a substitute for life in the military. The key is to look for a company that matches your “why statement” and displays a culture that fits your goals and expectations. Too often, departing service members take positions that aren’t a good cultural fit, resulting in veterans bouncing from job to job in search of a company that will offer them the appropriate challenges and opportunities.
I was fortunate to attend a three-month executive-level transition program called the Honor Foundation. The Honor Foundation quickly identifies your strengths, weaknesses and passions. Through professional instruction and continuous mentorship, the program gives you the tools required to compete for civilian positions that complement the skill set of the special operations community. Having a mentor from a Fortune 500 company really opened my eyes to what I was capable of doing post-military service. Often times, military service members become myopically focused on jobs they did in the military and are fearful of trying something different due to the potential for failure. Having a mentor was critical to my successful transition and finding a job that matched my “why” statement.
I also reached out to fellow Marines who had already completed the transition process. It is important to have a network of people who can provide best practices, struggles, achievements and advice to ease some of the unknown that re-entering the civilian sector entails. Special operations is a tight-knit community that prides itself on teamwork and having each other’s backs, and this rings true beyond the battlefield.
Most military service members have spent a career leading. They are quiet professionals who understand the importance of teamwork and commitment to the unit and mission. There is often a struggle in effectively communicating their military skill set and how it translates to the civilian sector. It has been my experience that companies want to know what you can do for them and why they should hire you. Transitioning service members have to quickly navigate these types of questions and articulate the impact they will make if they are brought onto the company’s team.
The Marine Raider Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) personnel and their families, offer a number of programs for transitioning MARSOC Raiders, including a network of civilian and former military mentors from a wide range of businesses and backgrounds, a one-time transition grant to assist with out-of-pocket expenses directly related to separating from military service, and helping to stand up the Honor Foundation’s East Coast Campus specifically for MARSOC Raiders based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. the military and civilian sectors. The Foundation also supports networking events that bring current and former military personnel together with community leaders and stakeholders, including fundraising events like the November 8th Evening with Mission2Alpha and Marine Raider Foundation and the 2019 USMC Birthday Bash at Rula Bula in Tempe. Keeping veterans connected with one another is key to preserving the team aspect that is sometimes lost when a service member re-enters the civilian sector.
Visit the Marine Raider Foundation’s website at marineraiderfoundation.org to view our Event Calendar and learn more about our programs.
Andy Christian, the executive director of the Marine Raider Foundation, is a special forces veteran who retired from the military two years ago and is now a senior vice president at Nikola in Phoenix.