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being institutionalized and the lack of experience on paper


Mike Gordon Virginia Beach, VA

Anyone ever feel that being in the military may have hindered their development to be successful in the civilian world. Those in the corporate world often have taken the traditional path of going to college after high school getting their degree and finding that dream job. The 1 percent of those who chose to serve in the military often did not have the chance nor the time to get a 4 year degree.
So how does one unlock their inner V.A.U.L.T.
How does speak to the Value, Authenticity, Uniqueness, Leadership, and Tenacity one might have who has served their country for so long but just seems that they may not have what it takes to survive in the outside world.

15 September 2017 10 replies Military to Civilian Transition



Kent Watson Monticello, FL

Mr. Gordon,
We thank you for you faithful, honorable and distinguished service. Many CEOs and corporate VPs value military experience. What helps is to translate to the terms that the corporate world understands. I would take a look at Dunn & Bradstreet, Standard & Poors, or other corporate profile of Johnson and Johnson to understand their culture. You have skills that align, but must find the right terms to capture your decades of knowledge, skills and abilities. For example, I had been a former MTOE Brigade Operations Officer and this can translate to middle management experience with regional responsibility, over 500 personnel, 44 offices and northeast and southeast portions of the USA. J&J does appreciate and understand our military culture at the senior leadership levels. I have found success by finding someone in an organization that understands how to help walk across the bridge. We thank you for your service in the US military. Very Sincerely, Kent T. Watson, Veteran of over 34 years of service and now Consultant to Homeland Security.

30 September 2017 Helpful answer


Julia Kirby Gambrills, MD

Hi Mike,
Thank you for all your years of service. I've been working with veterans through ACP for about 6 years now through ACP's relationship with Deloitte. The transition from military service to the corporate business world is a challenging one but NOT due to lack of skills, experience or knowledge. What I have found that it a lack of adequate translation and that veterans just need a boost in learning how to translate everything they bring to the table into corporate speak so that the businesses on the other side of the table not only hear what tremendous value you bring, but truly understand the depth of your experience and can see the value. This usually starts with the resume but definitely has to carry forward in how you explain who you are and what you bring. Leadership, problem solving, crisis management, global perspective, extensive management experience including working with challenging individuals or situations, understanding the politics of situations - all of these are skills you gain through service along with a plethora of others. The second skill you need to flex is learning to quickly judge the culture of the organizations in which you are interested. Corporate cultures vary greatly but also rarely align to the culture you experienced in the military as there are frequently different expectations around decision making and chains of command can be blurred, nonexistent or exist but designed to be broken in order to advance. Deloitte has some great programs for veterans entering or returning to the corporate world. Although any job search can be frustrating, having your depth of experience and feeling like you just face barriers certainly elevates the level of frustration. I'd be happy to review your resume or set up a call to talk. You've got all the pieces you need to get that position you seek - don't let them be lost in translation. Best of luck!

27 September 2017 Helpful answer


John Zanoff Dallas, TX


When I left active duty after 8 years, I was in the same boat as you. I hooked up with an agency that focused on transitioning vets, which got me in the door for interviews at a couple hiring fairs. That was 30 years ago, and things have gotten a lot better. At Raytheon, we have some positions that take into account military service as well as college, so you might want to check out our website for vets transitioning to the civilian world:
Here you can search via any number of categories. As an example, check out this job opening: 102024BR. This is just an example of a position that utilizes skills obtained in the military in addition to or in lieu of a 4 year degree.

Good luck in your search.
John Zanoff


Geoffrey Matthews Waynesville, NC

As others have said - thank you for your service. I think your request for guidance deserves an in depth one on one conversation that I would be glad to offer. Look at my profile and then if you think I can be of assistance please contact me via e-mail at and we can take it from there.


Ronald Bossert Bethlehem, PA

Hello Mike: I just want to echo what Daren said about Johnson & Johnson . I spent most of my career at this wonderful company which values the experiences of all people. Their CEO is a west point graduate and a former ranger in the army. This would be a good starting point. I am sure there are many other organizations out there which are also are veteran friendly. Good Luck,


Daren Deffenbaugh Winona Lake, IN

Lt. Gordon,

When I discharged from the Navy in 1991, I too found it a difficult transition. I ended up making a commitment to completing my education in Bioengineering. That was an easier step for me since I had only served 6 years. Since then, I have found a career home with Johnson & Johnson, a very veteran friendly employer. They do a lot of recruitment through Military Mojo, an organization that helps veterans find careers after their service. Try going to to learn more.

I know that we at J&J actively recruit veterans at these events. And there are many more veteran friendly companies, like J&J, seeking veteran talent like you.

Good Luck!

Daren Deffenbaugh, USN '85 - '91


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

There are MANY out there who give deference to those who have served. When I was recruiting for a major manufacturer of diesel engines, I would always step on the rope for a fellow Vet. My employer knew that and privately endorsed my actions. Thus, seek out Vet-friendly employers - the rest do not deserve you!


Mike Cottell Glen Head, NY

Hi Mike, your service was a gift to this country and millions of people are grateful to you for it. Please consider using this link, as well as making a list of all your military experiences and successes, to craft a point of view of how you will add value to an organization.

I would be happy to talk with you one on one to help you in this journey.
Best Regards, Mike


Mike Gordon Virginia Beach, VA


Send me anything you can
I can be reached at

Mike Gordon


Erik Schlacter New York, NY

Mr. Gordon,

First and foremost, thank you for your 22 years of service to this great country. Second, thank you for taking the time to post this question.

I will start off by saying that I hope you never regret your time in service. You should be proud of being part of the 1 percent. I think that those struggling with this challenge of transition need to learn how to leverage their skill set into the corporate world. Please feel free to message me privately and I would be more than happy to provide you with some personal insight and resources that might be able to assist with your transition.

Semper Fi,
Erik Schlacter

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