With the draw-down of troops comes the increased focus and attention on veterans transitioning into civilian lives. This past February I was honored to be chosen to facilitate week two of a three-week Veteran Transition program. During my training I met a phenomenal facilitator, Joseph Almond. Since then we have forged a friendship. He is a seasoned facilitator and having transitioned himself many years ago from the Army, he shared valuable insight with me as I began my work. Even as he currently works as a facilitator and consultant in many area including leadership and diversity, Joseph still dedicates time to helping Veterans. Below is an excerpt of an interview I had with him.
Q: What was the transition into the Civilian work like for you? My transition was very smooth based on preparation and support from family. It also presented challenges when I was hired as a manager trainee for an organization. I was still in the military mindset of accomplishing the mission without compromise. My civilian colleagues had the same commitment, however they sometimes approached things differently from what I had been accustomed. I learned to shift my military mindset by understanding that there was a new culture I was being exposed to. I had two mentors in the organization that supported me in my transition. They provided coaching – which proved to be invaluable.
Q: From your perspective, is the transition into civilian life/world the same or different for veterans today? I see it as being very different. When I transitioned there was no war being fought and our economy was strong. There were numerous opportunities for employment. Where as today, the economy is not as strong and it is very competitive with the unemployment rate being high. The unemployment rate is much higher for veterans. Organizations are hiring and firing everyday. Having said that, veterans and civilians alike must brand themselves like never before. Having a great resume just isn’t enough. Networking is more of a necessity today then it was when I transitioned.
Q: What are you doing to contribute to the effectiveness of those in transition to civilian lives and why? I work as a facilitator of a three-week transition workshop that is held monthly in San Diego. It is amazing to serve men and women who have served our country honorably. I have met some of the most talented people this country has produced. The feeling I have when facilitating this workshop is priceless. I have the opportunity to share my experiences with them as well as learning from their experiences.
Q: What do you see as maybe the top two or three challenges veterans face? Preparation and Expectation. Preparation through planning their lives is crucial. Some of the Veterans I have encountered have not planned the next 3-5 years of their lives out. They are focused on the now and surviving vs. tomorrow and thriving. Managing expectations can create tremendous value. If we expect to succeed at whatever cost then we will.
Q: What are 1 – 3 things that any Veteran in transition can do to increase the success of the career transition? Decide what they want. Network with others. Support others in achieving their dreams. Develop their dream team.
Q: What can others do to help? Most people have family members or friends that are or have served. If we would check in with these people and ask how we can be of support in their transition it would be powerful.
Q: What drives your passion? My family provides the fuel for my passion. Also, my desire to be in contribution and support others in achieving the lives they want. I believe when others are living their best life we all benefit.
Q: What do you foresee in the future? I see organizations hiring veterans and supporting them in entrepreneurship. There is a sea of talent out there and organizations are going to cast their nets wider in their search for talent.
Q: Who is/are your mentors? I have a dream team of a diverse people who I learn and glean from on an on going basis.
Q: What are you thoughts on coaching or mentoring for the veteran in transition? I think both coaching and mentoring would prove to be very valuable for veterans. Both have provided me with the support and knowledge that have transformed my life personally and professionally.
Q: Any parting words of advice? Veterans bring tremendous experience to any organization. They want an opportunity to show what they have just as most people do. Any organization that is wise enough to hire a veteran should be wise enough to leverage their skill sets. It’s important for the veteran and the organization to share and communicate expectations in order to ensure a successful transition.
You can read more about Joseph Almond, President of JAE Consulting at his LinkedIn profile: