In February, VETLANTA celebrated a milestone. Four years ago, approximately 30 Veterans who worked for Fortune 500 Companies in Atlanta met at The Coca-Cola Company. This meeting was a discovery of sorts to learn about other companies and their veterans’ outreach and opportunities. What we discovered is that there was a lot going on in the veteran space within several other companies. Four years ago, VETLANTA was born out of the interests and opportunities that these Atlanta-based companies had for America’s veterans. Since that February gathering in 2014, this diverse group of companies began to meet, and continued to meet, to expand the opportunities for veterans through working sessions, speakers, and much more.
As a veteran, I understand the challenges veterans and service members face as they transition into their new normal upon leaving the military. Having worked for a large corporation, I also understand the challenges companies face through the hiring process and vetting our service members. As the Co-Founder and Vice President of VETLANTA, I’m excited to take this four-year venture into year five and six and beyond with a desire to bring more veterans and companies together.
With a 20-year career in the military and a successful stint with a Fortune 50 company, I put into writing a guide to help others who will seek that new normal once they leave the military. Boots to Loafers was a multi-year labor of love written as a gift to help the men and women who chose to wear this nation’s uniform; returning to find a home, job, healthcare and more. While the book is a great resource, the networking opportunities and collaboration carried on by the members of VETLANTA can open doors for our service members in areas of community outreach, education, employment, healthcare, housing, and business.
The members of VETLANTA invite Atlanta’s business community to get involved with what we are doing for our veterans and their families here in Atlanta. And, to our Veterans, a dozen rules to live by featured in Boots to Loafers:
1. Faith: Always keep it and never lose it. In the 4th watch, weather the storms of life and be anxious for nothing; let your requests be made known to God.
2. Talent: You bring world-class leadership to the table. Capitalize on that fact. You know more than you think you do…never ever sell yourself short!
3. Steadfast: When things get tough, remain calm and stay focused just like you were trained to do in the military. Your peers and senior leaders will be amazed at how unshakable you are under their version of “a stressful situation”.
4. Confidence: Never underestimate yourself. Your work ethic and dedication to what you do will come through in the end.
5. Process: Being a “Staff Officer/NCO” will pay very big dividends for you in the private sector. Understand process, collaborate, coordinate, and execute…and capture your lessons learned.
6. Communications: Learn the language of the private sector. There will be a language barrier, don’t fight it. Adapt to it and transform yourself.
7. Patience: The private sector seems to have a lot more gray area. Don’t be discouraged, it takes some getting used to and you will succeed. It is your new normal.
8. Changing ‘We’ to ‘I’: It is all about you and what you can do for the bottom line. Start your transition early, transform yourself, and then integrate into your new world, your new normal. It’s actually OK to talk about yourself and what “you” accomplished.
9. Success: Find your True North. Always have a personal growth plan, a contingency plan, and an exit strategy in your back pocket.
10. Networking: Can’t say enough about it. Learn as much as you can about Finance, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Supply Chain. Become a more valued contributor to your new team and the Company. Network, network, and network some more….24/7/365.
11. Ambiguity: The stage we dance on while in uniform! The “fog of war”, haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion…the stage veterans will excel and shine in. Cooler heads always prevail.
12. Dress: It may seem silly to some. Suits, sport coats and dress clothes, in general, are expensive! Not only is it “what do I need to wear,” but “what do I need to buy.” Look out and don’t go crazy or you’ll go broke. Watch for sales!
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