Ware Malcomb Ceo Lawrence R. Armstrong Designs Post 9-11 War Memorial

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War Memorial

Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, today announced the firm’s Chief Executive Officer and artist, Lawrence R. Armstrong, has designed a first-of-its-kind Post 9-11 War Memorial to honor the military service men and women who have lost their lives in the war on terror.

The Post 9-11 War Memorial is being developed with the nonprofit group Welcome Home Troops, which was founded in 2007 to make a difference in the lives of military families by creating opportunities to reconnect with family, friends and their communities.

The memorial has been designed as a mobile installation that will travel from city to city across the United States. It is expected to make three to four stops each year in coordination with national veteran’s organizations and their local branches.

Lawrence R. Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Ware Malcomb

“It was a humbling assignment, but I was inspired by the idea of honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting the war on terror,” said the artist Lawrence R. Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Ware Malcomb. “The layered glass panels on the exterior represent the fragility of human life and the layers of emotion that our military families feel. The reflective and multi-faceted nature of the memorial as a whole evokes the emotional layers that we all experience. It was an honor for me to be a part of this project.”

The circular memorial will have the name of every member of the military that has given their life in the war on terror permanently etched on the exterior glass panels. The pavilion is 30 feet in diameter and rests on a platform of approximately 70 feet by 100 feet. It is clad in hundreds of glass panels attached to a stainless steel exterior skin, and will be able to be easily disassembled, moved and re-constructed in multiple locations.

The interior space of the structure will feature advanced digital video display boards, working with Facebook 360 and other partners of the Internet Marketing Association to create a state-of-the-art, virtual environment. Friends and family members of each hero will have the opportunity to upload information (pictures, videos, text, etc.) into a permanent database that will be accessible to the public through those displays (and a dedicated responsive website/app/digital platform).

“From the deserts of Iraq to the caves of Afghanistan, over 6,000 brave men and women to date have served and given their lives in the war on terror,” said Sue Rebar, Founder of Welcome Home Troops. “The creation of this traveling memorial will truly bring national recognition of this tremendous service and sacrifice.”

A national fundraising campaign has begun for the construction of the Post 9-11 War Memorial (#post911memorial). For more information, visit www.P9-11wm.org or view the design animation video here.

The memorial design was a project of Armstrong’s LRA Art, with Ware Malcomb assisting. Armstrong’s work as an artist has appeared in several high profile international art exhibitions and galleries, and has received numerous awards. His paintings and sculptures represent an ongoing exploration of the concept of layers: both how they interact and intersect with one another, and also the meanings contained within. More information on Armstrong’s personal work as an artist can be found at www.lraart.com.

About Ware Malcomb waremalcomb.com

Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is an international design firm providing planning, architecture, interior design, branding and civil engineering services to commercial real estate and corporate clients. With 22 office locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Panama, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science & technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/educational facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb was among the top 25 architecture/engineering firms in Building Design+Construction magazine’s 2016 Giants 300 ranking and the top 40 interior design firms in Interior Design magazine’s 2017 Top 100 Giants.

For more information about Ware Malcomb, please visit waremalcomb.com/news and view the Design Highlights of 2016 and 45th Anniversary Celebration videos.

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Veteran Entrepreneur Resources

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The soldier's military tokens are on dollar bills. Concept: cost

SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

Devoted exclusively to promoting veteran entrepreneurship, the OVBD facilitates the use of all U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs by veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors.

SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Program is an OVBD initiative that oversees Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the country. This small business program features a number of success stories and offers business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training for eligible veterans.

Funding for veteran-owned small businesses

You can use SBA tools like Lender Match to connect with lenders. In addition, SBA makes special consideration for veterans through several programs.

Veteran entrepreneurship training programs

SBA programs feature customized curriculums, in-person classes, and online courses to give veterans the training to succeed. These programs teach the fundamentals of business ownership and provide access to SBA resources and small business experts.

Government contracting programs for veterans

Every year, the federal government awards a portion of contracting dollars specifically to businesses owned by military veterans. Also, small businesses owned by veterans may be eligible to purchase surplus property from the federal government.

Check out the rules of eligibility for these government contracting programs for veterans.

Military spouse resources

Military spouses make great entrepreneurs, and small business ownership can be a transportable.

Continue reading on sba.gov/veteran-owned-business.

Oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor marks 105th birthday

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Joseph Eskenazi and large family

By Kevin McGill, The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Flag-waving admirers lined the sidewalk outside the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Wednesday to greet the oldest living survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as he marked his upcoming 105th birthday.

“It feels great,” Joseph Eskenazi of Redondo Beach, California, told reporters after posing for pictures with his great-grandson, who is about to turn 5, his 21-month-old great-granddaughter and six other World War II veterans, all in their 90s.

Eskenazi turns 105 on Jan. 30. He had boarded an Amtrak train in California on Friday for the journey to New Orleans. The other veterans, representing the Army, Navy and Marines, flew in for the event.

(Pictured) World War II veteran Joseph Eskenazi, who at 104 years and 11 months old is the oldest living veteran to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor, sits with fellow veterans, his great grandchildren Mathias, 4, Audrey, 1, and their grandmother Belinda Mastrangelo, at an event celebrating his upcoming 105th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

They were visiting thanks to the Soaring Valor Program, a project of actor Gary Sinise’s charitable foundation dedicated to aiding veterans and first responders. The program arranges trips to the museum for World War II veterans and their guardians.

Eskenazi was a private first class in the Army when the attack occurred. His memories include being awakened when a bomb fell — but didn’t explode — near where he was sleeping at Schofield Barracks, reverberating explosions as the battleship USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese bombs, and machine gun fire from enemy planes kicking up dust around him after he volunteered to drive a bulldozer across a field so it could be used to clear runways.

“I don’t even know why — my hand just went up when they asked for volunteers,” Eskenazi said. “Nobody else raised their hand because they knew that it meant death. … I did it unconsciously.”

He was at the Army’s Schofield Barracks when the Dec. 7, 1941, attack began, bringing the United States into the war. About 2,400 servicemen were killed.

Eskenazi and his fellow veterans lined up for pictures amid exhibits of World War II aircraft and Higgins boats, designed for beach landings.

Read the complete article on Military Times.

Cheeriodicals: Team Building That Matters

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Cheeriodicals recently delivered  personalized cheer-up duffel bags containing patriotic and convenience items to VA Hospitals, which included our current issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine.

About Cheeriodicals
Cheeriodicals provides a one-of-a-kind corporate team building experience focused on corporate social responsibility. Our Team Building that Matters concept is a turnkey, meaningful celebration on a local and national level.

We flawlessly execute an impactful, user-friendly event to unite your team while ultimately making a difference for those who could use a dose of cheer.

For more information about Cheeriodicals visit, https://cheeriodicals.com/

Should Your Company Invest in Supplier Diversity Programs? The Answer is Yes.

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By Yvette Montoya

When we consider the state of the United States in 2022 both socially and economically, it’s clear that our demographic is shifting and that Americans believe that social responsibility is more important than ever.

Companies that want to stay relevant in this economy need to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives. A 2017 Cone Communications CSR study stated that 87 percent of consumers would purchase a product that aligned with their own values, and 76 percent would boycott a brand if it supported an issue that went against their beliefs. So, it’s a good time for companies to evaluate what their corporate social responsibility (CSR) looks like and where it needs improvement.

There are four types of corporate social responsibility: Environmental, philanthropic, ethical and economic responsibility– and supplier diversity programs have the potential to achieve all four categories. In a world that’s increasingly looking to employers to create stability and treat employees fairly, supplier diversity programs not only give companies a competitive edge but also make them more likely to maintain high standards of ethics. Implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) positions businesses to create a positive experience for employees, vendors and the community at large.

Here are three reasons why every company should take supplier diversity programs seriously:

  1. You Get to Be a Leader in Social Responsibility

Companies that choose to focus intentionally on investing in Black and Latinx, women-owned, and LGBTQ+ businesses build trust with their customer base and inspire other business leaders to examine their own company practices. When we create transparency related to how products are sourced and/or hiring and management practices, we put our money where our mouth is, and so will your customers. According to Cone Communications, three out of five Americans believe that companies should spearhead social and environmental change. And eighty-seven percent of Americans said they’d buy a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about.

Although there may be some challenges in finding minority-owned vendors that comply with a buyer’s procurement requirements, there are two solutions to this. One being creating mentoring and training programs for diverse suppliers to help them meet the standards of the certification process. The other is to partner with relevant councils and chambers of commerce that provide these support systems. When value is created through tangible solutions, everyone wins.

  1. Investing in DEI will Foster Innovation and Sales

Treating DEI like an option or something that isn’t deserving of attention means that customers will see that you’re not taking your CSR seriously. Corporate social responsibility initiatives can be the best public relations — as well as marketing — tool. Gen Z and Millennials are experts at spotting inauthenticity. A company that positions authentically with real company-wide efforts and accountability will be viewed favorably in the eyes of consumers, investors and regulators. Honest initiatives attract opportunities and employees that match an organization’s convictions.

CSR initiatives can also improve employee engagement and satisfaction — key measures that drive retention. Finally, corporate social responsibility initiatives by nature force business leaders to examine practices related to how they hire and manage employees, source products or components and deliver value to customers. All of these things create happy employees and customers, which lead to innovation, sales and a good reputation.

  1. You Get to Make an Impact on Structural Inequality in America

Supplier diversity programs are a catalyst for true social impact because thriving small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. Strong local businesses create jobs and higher wages, which put money back into the community and drive economic growth. Another plus of supplier diversity is the impact it will have on the company at large and the economy overall. Supplier diversity promotes healthy competition by increasing the pool of possible suppliers. This can lead to potentially lower costs and a better product quality. Not only that, bringing in people from different backgrounds or from backgrounds that reflect the community your company serves can result in better marketing, unique solutions to old problems, as well as innovative ways to meet your customer’s needs.

With midterm elections underway, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on the right side of key issues, including racial and gender equality and environmental sustainability. This gives corporations the opportunity to work collaboratively with businesses in a way that combats racial discrimination, all while empowering the public, creating economic opportunity and enhancing their business.

Yvette Montoya is a Los Angeles native and journalist who is equal parts content creator and writer. She covers everything from issues of spirituality and politics to beauty and entertainment. Her journalistic work has been featured on Refinery29, Teen Vogue, ArtBound, HipLatina, Mitu, and she’s a regular contributor for POPSUGAR.

Empowering Veteran Business Owners For Nearly 150 Years

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Alex McKindra pictured with father and grandfather

The McKindra family believes in two things: service and community. That’s what led Commercial Banking Managing Director, Alex McKindra to West Point, the Air Force, and now JPMorgan Chase. Here’s how he honors his family legacy by helping to empower veteran business owners.

From his years of service in the military to his current role as a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase—where he helps former soldiers build their own businesses—Alex McKindra Jr. is a veteran success story.

And his story has a long history, tracing back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.

Generations of Mentorship

In the late 1800s, McKindra’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed Black slaves.

Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. Namely, the family utilized mentorship programs, as well as public and private funding, to not only start but grow—and grow—their family farm.

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military and, subsequently, to their communities when they returned home.

“I would not be in the position I am today if not for the opportunities that mentorship provided,” says McKindra. “The farm my family was able to start, through the support and mentorship of others, has helped to educate and put clothes on every generation of my family since the 1880s.”

Paying It Forward

McKindra chose to honor his roots by following in his ancestors’ footsteps and joining the military. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty serving as Captain in the United States Air Force.

Armed with the life experience and knowledge he gained from the service—and a freshly-minted MBA from the University of Southern California—McKindra dove into the world of corporate finance. Quickly building a reputation for his intelligence, reliability and kindness, he rose through the ranks. Today, he works as a Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.

Amid his own success, McKindra’s also wanted to help those who—like his great-great-grandfather Reuben—had risked their lives for the country and were now seeking to put down roots as civilians.

At JPMorgan Chase, he continued to advocate for veterans, ultimately becoming co-lead of JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s veteran initiatives program, alongside Army veteran Terry Hill.

Currently, McKindra and Hill are working with JPMorgan Chase and Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit, to build programs to help veteran small business owners. Together, they created CEOcircle, a 13-month mentorship program that is tailored to help mid-size, military-connected companies grow. Through this program, veteran business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to succeed, including education, networking, and one-on-one financial mentoring from JPMorgan Chase advisors. The program empowers businesses that will support military families for generations to come—businesses like the McKindra farm.

The new program launched nationally last year and will welcome its second cohort of 80 military-connected businesses this November.

“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built didn’t just support our family, it also instilled the values in us that would seed the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veteran-owned businesses in the future,” McKindra says. “I know he’d be proud of that.”

In the past decade, over 16,000 veterans and service members have transitioned their military skills into civilian careers at JPMorgan Chase. Through our programs and initiatives, our goal is to position military members, veterans and their families to thrive in their post-service lives. Learn More.

The Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program

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A businessman with thumbs up in victory sign with the United States flag in the background. Victory for the USA. Support for U.S. policy

The Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program is an intensive entrepreneurship boot camp that trains current and former service members to innovate, build startups, and apply the Silicon Valley way of thinking to their roles as rising leaders.

Over the course of five weeks part-time, highly qualified veterans learn the foundational skills of innovation and entrepreneurship. They apply these learnings through a hands-on project, identifying a startup idea, validating the market, and taking their first steps toward launching their own venture.

Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars participate in this experience as members of small cohorts of fellow veteran entrepreneurs, with whom they actively collaborate, exchange feedback, and share the ups and downs of life as a founder. The program culminates in Demo Day, during which each Scholar presents their startup. The relationships developed in their cohorts frequently lead to collaboration on ventures after graduation.

While the Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program focuses on startup entrepreneurship, veterans interested in building a non-profit organization or launching products inside existing companies are also welcome to participate and will find much of the material covered transferable.

Successful graduates are welcomed into the Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars community. This opens further opportunities for engagement with fellow veteran entrepreneurs. They also receive certificates from the Mason School of Business Center for Military Transition and the Veteran Startup Challenge. And, they are eligible for digital credentials that can be displayed on social media like LinkedIn and select William & Mary alumni opportunities and events.

No prior experience in startups or entrepreneurship is required. All current and former service members are welcome to apply.

Both in-person and remote cohorts will be hosted. In-person cohorts will be held at the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center on William & Mary’s campus.

Continue to read the complete article and apply here.

The Dos and Don’ts of Veteran Interviews

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professional woman seated behind monitor extending her hand

Many civilian employers have admitted challenges when it comes to evaluating a veteran during a job interview. This is often because veterans have difficulty explaining how their military experience relates to the needs of the civilian employer. Additionally, while veterans will be quick to praise their team or unit, they are typically not self-boastful in interviews, so civilian employers can often feel like veteran candidates are not “selling themselves.”

It is important to keep in mind that the concept of professional presentation is often different for former military personnel than for civilians. Military personnel (particularly those recently separated/discharged from military service) will often present themselves with eyes forward, back straight and using “Sir” and “Ma’am” vocabulary (often without much smiling). This behavior may be misperceived as cold, distant, unapproachable or demonstrating a lack of social skills. While this is generally not the case, these perceptions have caused many service members to be discarded early in the interview process.

Employers should recognize that former military personnel may need permission to “speak freely” to create a comfort level where they can appear in the most positive light. Hiring managers should be encouraged to be patient with these candidates and to “dig deep” with follow up questions to find qualities that are not apparent at first glance. It is worth remembering that veteran candidates, unlike many civilian candidates, may not be accustomed to interviewing and may require a little latitude.

Know What You Can and Should Not Ask During an Interview

First and foremost, interviewing a veteran or wounded warrior is no different than interviewing any other candidate. It is important to ask all questions of all candidates, without exception. A good interviewing practice is to ask all candidates the following question: “Have you read the job description? Yes or no — can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” You are not asking the candidate to disclose whether or not they have a disability but are ensuring they can perform the essential functions of the job. In addition, you make it clear that as an employer you understand this process and are not likely to discriminate due to disability.

Great questions to ask veterans can include:

  • What is in the job description that interests you most?
  • Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?
  • What type of training and education did you receive in the military?
  • Were you involved in the day-to-day management of people or supplies?

Questions you should NEVER ask veterans include:

  • What type of discharge did you receive?
  • Are you to be called up for duty anytime soon?
  • Did you experience any combat operations?
  • How could you leave your family while you were deployed?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?

Making a Decision

If you feel like the veteran you interviewed for the position is simply not the right fit, you shouldn’t feel obligated to hire a veteran just because they are veteran. However, you do need to take special factors into consideration when it comes to making a final decision on whether you should hire a veteran:

  • Did the veteran progress throughout his/her military career?
  • Identify the strengths such as leadership, accountability and team building
  • Look for compatibility — did the veteran match their military skills with the position?
  • Remember veterans have a myriad of soft skills, like leadership and flexibility
  • Veterans possess skills that can make them some of your best employees

Make sure that whatever your decision for hiring, that you hire the veteran because they are the best candidate. In the end, it will be the most beneficial to the employer and employee alike.

Sources: Obama White House Archives, Department of Veteran Services Ohio

Taking the Initial Steps to Certification

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Successful businessman clarifying provisions of contract with business partner, discussing terms of agreement, explaining strategy or financial plan

By Natalie Rodgers

If you’re a business owner, then you may already be aware of the basics of Veteran-Owned (VOBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOBE) business certifications. But going through the process to actually obtain the certification can be daunting, especially when considering the paperwork and fees that often go into the process. However, even if your business is thriving by your standards, earning your certification can take your business to new heights. Some of the benefits that certification can bring to your business include:

Funding Opportunities

Money is helpful no matter what kind of business you run, and certification opens the doors to funding opportunities that other businesses can’t access. Every year the government puts aside 23 percent of all of their contracts for small businesses, with 3 percent of that total going specifically towards VOBE and SDVOBE businesses. However, to be eligible to compete for these funds, you have to be a VOBE or SDVOBE certified business. Depending on the network you use to earn your certification, you may also become eligible for other funding opportunities through your certifier.

Corporate Partnerships

Businesses work with other companies all the time, but what a lot of people don’t know is that big name, Fortune 500 companies are often looking to work with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to increase their supplier diversity efforts. To find these small businesses, these companies go directly to small business certifiers like NAVOBA, the SBA and the VA. When you become VOBE or SDVOBE certified, you will be given access to networking opportunities that could gain you a deal with some of the biggest businesses in the country. These kinds of partnerships can lead to an increase of sales and publicity. Some of the top corporations who have dedicated their efforts to work with veteran-owned businesses include USAA, JPMorgan, FedEx, Lowe’s, T-Mobile, Hilton, Ford and many more.

Resources Galore

Even if you aren’t looking for government funding or corporate partnerships, certification can still benefit your business in tremendous ways. By becoming certified, you gain access to courses, classes, conferences and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business in every aspect. Through whichever certifier you choose, you can learn the best methods of filing your business taxes, handling payroll, marketing your brands, working with social media and so much more.

Veteran Connections

Being certified not only allows you to connect with big-name companies but to other veteran-owned businesses and the customers that support them. When you become certified, you have the perfect platform for connecting with other veterans on their entrepreneurial journey. This can lead to potential business partnerships, mentoring opportunities or even just friendships with other veterans.

So How Do I Get Started?

If the benefits of becoming certified are enticing, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by what may be required of you, remember that you are not alone. If hundreds of veteran-owned businesses across the country can become certified, then you can too. To simplify the process, start with our preparation guide.

  1. Choose the certification that’s right for you. This will depend on your business and your needs.

For those interested in federal contracts, try:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs: vetbiz.va.gov/vip

For those interested in private contracts, try:

  • National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): apps.adaptone.com/navoba
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC): nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page
  1. Gather your documents. The kinds of documents you need will depend on your specific program, but just about any certifier you choose will need the following:
  • Government issued ID
  • Your resume
  • Past tax returns
  • Articles of organization or incorporation
  • Operating agreement
  • Your DD214
  • Payroll information
  • VA Disability Documentation (SDVOSB certification)
  1. Utilize your certifying organization’s contacts. If you run into any trouble during the application process or just need clarity on what to do next, feel free to reach out to your organization via the email or telephone number provided on their website. They are willing to assist and want to help you get your certification.

 

Sources: NaVOBA, US Chamber, Fulton Bank, Veteran Owned Business Round Table, Indeed

The NMSDC Equity Honors 2023–Applications Now Open

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The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Equity Honors awards are presented to corporate chief officers who have been recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.

Submit an application for your CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CDO, and CPO of the Year. All applications* must be started** by Dec. 20 to be considered.

Submit Application Here!

*Qualified applications submitted for The Equity Honors in 2022 have been cloned for consideration for the 2023 Equity Honors. Simply log into the NMSDC Awards Portal and update your application, then submit. Previous winners of The Equity Honors are ineligible to apply again for a minimum of 3 years.

**We will reopen the applications in March of 2023 to collect 2022 comparative data that will complete the application. All applications that have been started by Dec. 20 will constitute The Equity Honors Nominees for 2023 with nominees highlighted on the Forum website and invited to the 2023 Minority Business Economic Forum.

For more information about NMSDC visit, nmsdc.org

Challenge Accepted: Mastering Military Transition

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“Women veterans are a strong group of people. They worked hard, deployed, raised families and sacrificed their time, energy and selves to earn their ranks, titles and places in history books that have not yet been written.

Women have great instincts and deserve a seat at every table, in every boardroom, at every town hall meeting and at any discussion where decisions need to be made. Women have always been an integral part of society and [the] future of the world. It’s time that women are put out front to receive the recognition of all the decades of hard work that has been put in to establish a legacy in the armed forces.” -retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Carla Perez, USMC

Let’s meet one of these esteemed women, 28-year USMC veteran retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Carla Perez. MGySgt Perez began her career in the Marines on May 17, 1993, and retired on December 31, 2021. Her service included three deployments: Bosnia in 1996, Iraq in 2008-2009 and Afghanistan in 2010-2011. She was stationed in many places around the globe, including 29 Palms, California; Iwakuni, Japan; Camp Pendleton, California; Vancouver, Washington; Marine Corps Air Station, Mira Mar in San Diego and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Although Perez was raised in a family of veterans, the military was not initially in her plans. She graduated high school and went on to college at the University of Montana but returned home to Oregon when she didn’t have the funds to continue her studies. There, she worked a few odd jobs until a recruiter found her and offered her the opportunity to join the Marine Corps. You can say the rest is history!

While serving in the Marines, Perez found that women progressed in the Marine Corps in both rank and job opportunities at a fair rate. She never felt as though being a woman held her back. Previously closed jobs in the combat arms MOS had opened, and women were assigned to traditionally male units. Early in that transition, women were doing combat supporting jobs, admin, supply

In 2008 for one year as their Logistics/Supply Chief. The unit was assigned a Civil Affairs mission. There were only a handful of women assigned to that battalion for the duration of that deployment.

Transitions can be difficult. Moving from a career in the military to civilian life is one of those challenging transitions. I asked Perez how she prepared for her retirement. She had been thinking about the transition for a few years before submitting papers to retire and felt as prepared as she could be. Perez is a few college courses shy of a BS in Criminal Justice and initially thought about returning to school at the beginning of her transition. Throughout her time in the Marine Corps, she worked in the Supply/Logistics field and felt that her resume would make her a strong candidate in either of those fields. She knew she had more to give beyond the last 29 years of her life as a Marine, and she was excited to see what opportunities awaited her.

Initially, she took a few months off to spend time with her family and relax. Everyone should take time off from the rigorous schedule the military requires of its service members to just exhale. She highly recommends this approach! In February 2022, she was given the opportunity to work for Liberty Military Housing. She currently holds the position of Director of Military Affairs, Southwest Marines, Housing. Her region encompasses Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms, Yuma, Colville and Kansas City — a few locations where she was stationed during her career.

I asked her how her military career prepared her for her current role in her civilian career. She responded, “Being a Marine and being a person of service was something I am very good at. I am flexible yet mission-oriented. I like to get things done and take care of people. This job is the perfect fit for me. My job responsibilities are very closely tied to the military and taking care of military families. I bridge the gap between our government housing partner and Liberty Military Housing. I am honored to be able to continue to be so closely connected to Marines and military families that live aboard our installations.”

I inquired about the advice she would give someone considering a career in the military or someone preparing to transition to the civilian sector. Perez replied, “Choosing a career in the USMC is like no other job in the world. Hard work will always be rewarded and not go unnoticed. Being a Marine is a tough job that comes with a lot of responsibility. Upholding and honoring traditions of all the men and women that have gone before us is something that sets Marines apart. There are very few Marines and even fewer female Marines — expect to work just as hard as all of those around you, if not harder, both men and women. There are so many intangible traits and feelings that make Marines who they are that cannot be explained — experiences and a sense of pride that cannot be compared to anything else. Being a good leader takes time and  work. More energy and personal time spent away from your daily duties are what it takes to go the distance in the USMC. Working hard and staying focused is the best advice I can give.

”Perez continues, “Think ahead about your transition out of the USMC. A few years in advance, have a mental picture of what you want your life after to look like. Take the necessary steps to prepare to depart. It will have to be a fluid plan until you make your final decision. Be flexible and keep an open mind. You will have so much to offer the world, more than you can just write on a paper or summarize on a resume. You will have all the tools you need to make the move, don’t be afraid; just have a plan with a few options.

”And that, my friends, is proof that the long-standing slogan, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” is as true today as it was when Marine Corps Master Sergeant Paul Woyshner first shouted it. I enjoyed my time with MGySgt Perez and appreciated her insight into navigating the transition after a career in service to our country.

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