After serving in active duty, first sailing the Atlantic on the Chilean tall ship Esmeralda as a liaison officer, and then on the mighty USS Thach in the Pacific, South China Sea, Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf during the tense years of the Desert Storm and Desert Shield conflicts, he finished his military service honorably with a hunger for more culture and education.
Fast-forward to today, Rovira has now been appointed as the vice president of leadership for the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). The LAF is a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit organization, that, through its programs and initiatives, works to increase the capacity, influence and impact of landscape architects to create a more sustainable, just and resilient future. Rovira was previously in the LAF board of directors and formerly served as vice president of research.
As an organization dedicated to the research, scholarship and leadership in the field, the LAF brings together leaders, innovators, critical thinkers, makers, builders and industry professionals focused on bringing about positive change through its commitment to sustainable landscape solutions and its support for the development of emerging student leaders and young professionals.
“My selection as V.P. of leadership at the Landscape Architecture Foundation gives me an opportunity to contribute to the thought leadership and the conversations that shape practice, academia and industry.” Rovira’s standpoint as a professional, teacher and administrator at FIU, with roots in Latin America, as well as a broad background that didn’t begin in landscape architecture, gives him a unique perspective.
As the largest Hispanic-serving institution of higher learning in the country and in one of the most climate-challenged and culturally diverse settings in the world, FIU prepared him to think broadly about what leadership means in this context and how adaptation can become opportunity as we face profound challenges to our communities and environments everywhere.
When asked what sparked his interest in landscape architecture and how that led him to where he was today, Rovira spoke on his heavy influence from Japan, where he had been home-ported for three years with the Navy and was forever shaped by its transcendent obsession with detail. Afterward, he entered the inactive reserve with an unparalleled appreciation for “how a vast and multi-faceted institution could adjust to complexity day in and day out through a commitment to leadership and a focus on its mission.”
This led to his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, when he met an Austrian landscape architect who influenced him to pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) years later.
During his term as V.P. of leadership, Rovira plans to continue to set the standard for the LAF’s renowned awards programs. These programs are comprised of the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership that recognizes and rewards big ideas in landscape architecture with a $25,000 grant, and the LAF Medal and the LAF Founder’s Award that recognize significant and sustained contributions to the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment. He also plans to build stronger bridges that strengthen academia, industry and practice.
Rovira explained that landscape architecture is uniquely poised to rise to the challenge of this unique moment in history where environment, society, economy and health are most in need of informed and thoughtful leadership. The LAF provides a platform to create better leaders by bringing together students, educators, young professionals, industry and practice leaders.
“I look forward to leveraging my position as V.P. of leadership to make our networks between practice, academia and industry more resilient and more complementary,” he added.
Post Military Life – Much has changed in the world and in our country since our publication was founded. Everywhere we look, times are shifting, and it’s our goal to always be a part of learning from the past to make the future better and brighter for those who have been called to serve. The impact of veterans in their communities is multifold. They bring their skills, expertise, values and work ethic to local business, politics and the community at large. However, they have, unfortunately, not always received the aid and respect that is due to someone who honorably served in our armed forces.
As U.S. Veterans Magazine celebrates 10 years of supporting those who have been called to serve, we asked some of our partners about the difference they’ve seen in the veteran experience over the last decade.
U.S. Veterans Magazine: What do you believe has been the most significant change or benefit to veterans in the last 10 years?
Bobby McDonald, OC Black Chamber of Commerce:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Orange Country Black Chamber of Commerce
“In the year 2012, in the county of Orange, in the State of California, there were over 150,000 veterans living in the county. Orange County was the third largest county in California behind Los Angeles and San Diego and had no outside funding or support other than the Veterans Service Office, which came basically from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, through the County of Orange. The Orange County Veterans Advisory Council (OCVAC) was formed and comprised of members appointed by the OC Board of Supervisors. The board was made up of nine members that were U.S. military veterans with honorable discharges. In 2012, the OCVAC was injected with [a] couple of Vietnam veterans that were of the mindset to make a positive change in the veterans environment and set a course of involvement, awareness, outreach, resource availability and positive outcomes. Armed with the theme ‘Have We Helped A Veteran Today’ and a commitment to help veterans get housing, education, health, employment and legal support, the group set forth to make positive measurable changes with partnerships.”
Keith King, National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC):
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NVBDC
“The inclusion of veteran-owned businesses in the supplier diversity programs of America’s leading corporations is the most significant change of the past 10 years of successful post military life. When veteran businesses were first identified as legal contracting entities in the federal government, many veteran businesses celebrated. But the hype never lived up to the promise. As the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) was forming in late 2012, it was clear that, if a third-party certification organization could create a certification program for veteran business owners that met corporate supplier diversity standards, the corporations would give certified veterans a chance to compete for contracts. In 2014, when the NVBDC presented its certification program to a group of corporations, they all gave NVBDC their tacit approval. By 2017, when the 28 corporations of the Billion Dollar Roundtable named NVBDC as the only acceptable veteran business certification to use to capture and report their veteran business spend amounts, they created an $80 billion opportunity for our veteran businesses.”
Phil Kowalczyk, President and CEO of Camp Corral:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Camp Corral
“The awareness and understanding of mental health challenges veterans, caregivers and their families are facing has been the most evolving trend over the last decade. Furthermore, the demographics of military and veteran communities continue to change rapidly, especially among caregivers. Camp Corral’s research has indicated that 70 percent of military children perform at least one caregiving task in wounded warrior households. Many of them experience similar emotional health challenges as their adult counterparts and caregiver responsibility can affect a child’s ability to participate in activities non-military children typically pursue. The Biden Administration recognizes these challenges and is dedicating more resources to serving military and veteran families through the ‘Joining Forces’ initiative. Commitments include support for caregiver economic opportunities and respite as well as increasing access to quality behavioral, social and emotional health resources for military and veteran families. These initiatives will be essential post military life steps in ensuring community providers have the resources they need to provide culturally competent and evidence-based care for both children and adult caregivers of our country’s ill, wounded and fallen military heroes and veterans.”
The Rosie Network:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Rosie Network
“The U.S. offers the most extensive veteran benefits in the world. Despite this, there remain much-needed improvements and one of the most significant is the Mission Act (2019) allowing veterans to seek treatment of the VA. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I watched my mother sacrifice her nursing career to support my father’s 20 years of active-duty service. Living on a single enlisted income meant falling below the poverty line and [into] financial hardship. While military spouses continue to struggle with employment, there has been a significant shift over the past 10 years to address this issue. Today, military and veteran spouses have access to organizations and resources from Military OneSource to those seeking self-employment support from The Rosie Network.”
Patrick Alcorn, UTAVBOC:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of UTAVBOC
“The most significant benefit to veterans over the last 10 years includes the expansion of the Veterans Business Outreach Center program. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development created this program, specifically, to empower post military Life veterans and military spouses who are interested in starting anl growing
Women in the Military – In recent years, there have been numerous firsts for women in the military. Women are shattering barriers and inspiring others through their dedication to serving our country and their commitment to mission readiness. Demonstrating that grit and perseverance combined with a passion for service and adherence to excellence are the cornerstones of success for women in the military, we celebrate them as they continue to reach new heights.
First Woman Leads SOUTHCOM: Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson
Photo Caption and Credit: Gen. Laura J. Richardson (Courtesy of U.S. Southern Command)
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson is a four-star general in the U.S. Army and commander of U.S. Southern Command where she oversees U.S. military operations across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Prior to leading SOUTHCOM, she was the commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
During her Senate confirmation hearing Richardson said, “We must hasten to pick up the pieces left by the pandemic and transform our relationships to meet 21st-century security challenges. Put simply, winning together with our allies and partners matters.” Richardson continued, “We will draw upon the strength in our neighborhood from partners who share our values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and gender equality.”
According to SOUTHCOM, “Over her career, General Richardson has commanded from the Company to Theater Army level as a notable women in the military . She commanded an Assault Helicopter Battalion in combat in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), deploying her unit from Fort Campbell, Ky. to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has also served in numerous staff assignments at a myriad of locations, including Military Aide to the Vice President at the White House in Washington, D.C., the Army’s Legislative Liaison to Congress at the U.S. Capitol and at the Pentagon as an Army Campaign Planner.”
First Female State Command Chief for Minnesota Air National Guard
Photo Caption and Credit: Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson (MN Air National Guard)
Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson is the most senior enlisted member of the Minnesota Air National Guard. As the State Command Chief, she plays a vital role in the development and readiness of the force. Since October 2021, she has been responsible for leading and managing roughly 2,000 Airmen located at two separate wings and one headquarters across Minnesota.
“My priorities are to build relationships to improve the resiliency of the force so we may provide this state and nation a ready force,” said Erikson. “I will also provide opportunities for development and growth” for women in the military.
According to the Minnesota Air National Guard, “Erikson brings tremendous diversity of experience having held six very different duty positions throughout her 32 years of service. She began her career as a Jet Engine Mechanic on the C-141 cargo aircraft. She succeeded in this traditionally male career field in a time when there were only five to six percent females in the U.S. Air Force. She transitioned into administrative roles include training manager, personnel systems manager and 148th Recruiting Office Supervisor. She served as the Senior Noncommissioned-Officer-In-Charge of the 148th Medical Group for 10 years. In this role, she deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the Wing’s aviation deployment.”
Utah National Guard Promoted First Brigadier General
Photo Caption and Credit: Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto (Courtesy of Utah National Guard)
In May 2021, Col. Charlene Dalto became the first female to be promoted to brigadier general in the Utah Army National Guard, assuming the role of commander of the Utah National Guard Land Component Command.
She served the first 20 years of her military career as an enlisted Soldier, attaining the second-highest rank as a master sergeant. Dalto then commissioned as a first lieutenant working with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 18 years as an officer.
Dalto shared, “Throughout my military career, I have been privileged to know many great Soldiers and be mentored by outstanding leaders. I pledge to continue that tradition for the Soldiers under my command. Together, we will dedicate ourselves to the great tradition of the Utah Army National Guard for excellence in serving the citizens of Utah and our great nation.”
First Latina Earns Expert Infantryman Badge
Photo Caption and Credit: 1st Lt. Maria Eggers (Spc. Johnathan Touhey/U.S. Army)
Army 1st Lt. Maria Eggers earned the expert infantryman badge in April 2021when she completed the five-day test that gauges the ability to execute a variety of critical infantry skills and a Soldier’s physical fitness. The test evaluates skill mastery in various environments and under stress. While all combat roles opened to women in 2016, fewer than 100 women serving in the U.S. Army have received the expert infantryman badge.
Eggers was raised in a military family with both of her parents serving, which inspired her to join the military. She is currently serving at Fort Hood as a platoon leader.
When asked about her experience and upon learning that she was the first Latina to earn the award in the regiment, Eggers said, “I was shocked by how few females have had the opportunity or who have tried. I definitely think it is amazing that we have females that are in this profession and that we’re succeeding. There is a lot of good talk that happens whenever somebody is successful. It just shows that we can do it, and that females are strong, and we can handle this job too.”
Soldiers begin the five-day test by running four miles in 40 minutes then demonstrating their weapons skills. On day two they wear their combat gear while completing day and night land navigation courses. On the third and fourth days, the Soldiers are evaluated on their ability to care for injured personnel. On day five, they complete the ruck, a 12-mile foot march completed in three hours while wearing full body armor. The test is both a challenge, both physically and mentally.
First Female General Strengthens West Virginia Army National Guard
Photo Caption and Credit: Then Col. Michaelle M. Munger (Courtesy of West Virginia National Guard)
Col. Michaelle M. Munger was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in December 2021, making her the first female general officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard. Munger has served in every component of the U.S. Army — active duty, U.S. Army Reserves and the Army National Guard throughout her 27-year career.
“Having a female voice at the table is critical in strengthening our National Guard,” Munger said. “What we bring to the mission is unique not because we are females, but because of our ability to approach the mission in perhaps a different perspective and viewpoint. Additionally, by being at the table, we can display our competency and capabilities, and to dispel stereotypes to help younger Soldiers not face the same gender-related limitations and hurdles we might have faced in our own careers. Every Soldier needs to be heard and judged based not on their sex, but by their ideas and vision.”
Munger serves as Special Assistant to the Adjutant General of West Virginia where she assists with special projects, mentorship, inclusion and diversity initiatives and leadership development within the WVNG.
“My own method to success has been perseverance and self-reflection,” she said. “And I try to instill in every Soldier I work with to be the 4 Ps: Productive, Present, Prompt, Professional. I am super-excited for the talented, smart, bright, energetic younger crop of women now entering the military and the opportunities and doors that are continually opening to them. They inspire me, and hopefully, I inspire them too. But I want to be a role model for all Soldiers, not just females, that doing the right thing, growing where you are planted and making the effort will allow you to succeed.”
Alabama Air National Guard Named First Female General
Photo Caption and Credit: Tara D. McKennie (then-Air Force Col.) (Courtesy of Alabama National Guard)
Brigadier General Tara D. McKennie, the Assistant Adjutant General-Air and Air Component Commander, Joint Force Headquarters, Montgomery, Ala., commands all units of the Alabama Air National Guard, and serves as the key advisor to the Adjutant General of Alabama on all matters relating to the air mission. She is the first Black female general officer in either component of the Alabama National Guard.
McKennie enlisted in the Air Force in 1989 as an airman basic, serving six years on active duty before commissioning as a second lieutenant through the Army’s Officer Candidate School in 1999.
McKennie’s entire professional career has been in health care operations focusing on optimization theory, implementation of management processes and developing and leading people. In addition to her military service, McKennie is currently Vice President of Culture and Leadership Development for a national physician practice, supporting and leading operations for 5000+ employees.
MCRD San Diego Celebrates First Female Boot Camp Graduates
Photo Caption & Credit: Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, congratulate each other after graduating from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif. For the first time in MCRD San Diego’s history, male and female platoons completed their 13-week training concurrently in a gender-integrated company. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
In May 2021, dozens of women graduated from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, marking a first for the Marine Corps. This milestone event is part of the Marine Corps’ efforts to expand training opportunities for female Marines. Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, was the camp’s first ever co-ed company. In 2019, Congress ordered the Marine Corps to make both boot camps, Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego co-ed. In the past, women could only train and become enlisted Marines at Parris Island, training apart from the men in their battalion. With the passage of the 2019 law, Parris Island was required to integrate women into training alongside men within five years and San Diego was given eight years. San Diego adopted the change six years sooner than required.
Fifty-three women completed the grueling Crucible, a three-day training exercise, and earned the name Marine while also making history. According to military.com, “The platoon of female recruits won the final drill competition last month; they also had the highest Physical and Combat Fitness Test scores in their company. And their rifle range scores were higher than the average female platoon at Parris Island.”
Professional Athletes with Military Service are some of the jobs our nation’s veterans transition to, besides a multitude of different and exciting industries once they’ve completed their military service. Several have become some of the biggest names in sports. Here are some of your favorite athletes who also spent time in the military.
Dusty Baker – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. has been a baseball phenom for his entire career. He played baseball from 1976 to 1986 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. Baker coached for the San Francisco Giants from 1988 to 1992; and has managed five major league teams since 1993, currently managing for the Houston Astros. Throughout his career, he has become a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion and has been recognized three times as National League Manager of the Year. Dusty Baker is also a U.S. Marine. Baker served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a mechanic motor transport from 1968 to 1974 during the Vietnam War. “Out here on the baseball diamond, it’s like teammates are your brothers,” Baker said of the similarities between baseball and the service, “I learned more about teamwork in the Marines, more than anything else. If we get in a fight or whatever there is, you better not touch my teammate.”
Alejandro Villanueva – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Alejandro Villanueva played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens before his recent retirement from the NFL. He mainly played offensive tackle, becoming one of the Steelers’ starting players and ranking 24th out of all of the offensive tackles in the NFL. Before his football career, Villanueva served in the Army. The son of a Spanish Naval Officer, Villanueva enrolled and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was eventually assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he served his first deployment, which earned him a Bronze Star Medal for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire. Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan. During his five years of service, Villanueva received the National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among other recognitions.
David Robinson – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Sporting News via Getty Images
David Robinson was one of the greatest basketball players of the 1990s. During his time in the NBA, playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson became a two-time NBA champion, the 1995 MVP, a 10-time NBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. But before he became one of the most admired ball players on the court, Robinson served in the U.S. Navy. Upon receiving his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy, Robinson was assigned to the Civil Engineering Corps at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, where he did engineer work and recruiting campaigns. Keeping his days of service close to his heart, Robinson supports military families in any way he can. He was also a military child whose father was deployed during his upbringing. “I know the price that people pay to serve our country,” Robinson stated to the Department of Defense, “and so it’s just a blessing to be able to come in and encourage the families here that are paying that price for us.”
Arnold Palmer – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/WireImage
Although his claim to fame happened decades ago, ardent golfers of any age know the name Arnold Palmer. He won 62 PGA tour titles from 1955 to 1973, making him one of the top five golfers of all time. But before he became a golf superstar, Palmer served with the U.S. Coast Guard for four years. After losing his college friend and roommate to a car accident, Palmer enlisted in the service as a way to give back to his community and save lives. He served from 1951 to 1954 as a lifeguard at Cape May, N.J., and as a photographer at Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer heavily credits his time with the Coast Guard as one of the main influences in his upbringing. In a conversation with Coast Guard historian Richard A. Stephenson, Palmer shared, “I’m very proud of the fact that I was in the Coast Guard… The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard made me a better person. The military isn’t just about restrictions, it’s a learning experience, and it’s very important that young people have that opportunity to learn and to know themselves a little better. I think the military helps put that in the right perspective.”
Harris “Hurley” Haywood – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Army/Terrance Bell-
Harris “Hurley” Haywood is a world-class race car driver with over 35 years of professional experience under his belt. Haywood has won multiple events, including five overall victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is credited with the 1988 Trans-Am title, two IMSA GT Championship titles and 23 wins, three Norelco Cup championships, a SuperCar title and 18 IndyCar starts. But before his racing career began, Haywood was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a specialist 4 with the 164th Aviation Group near Saigon, Vietnam. After serving his one tour, Haywood returned to the United States and began his racing career, where he used many of the lessons he learned in Vietnam to help him become a better driver. Haywood credits his service for giving him one of the most critical skills to have as a racecar driver: the ability to adapt.
Melissa Stockwell – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
Melissa Stockwell is no stranger to athletic successes. A paralympic triathlete swimmer, Stockwell has competed in the Paralympics twice, one of which earned her a bronze medal. She is a three-time gold medalist in the ICU Triathlon World Championships. Before her athletic successes, Stockwell served as an Army Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. She served from 2002 to 2005 and spent the latter part of her military career deployed in Iraq. While leading a convoy in Baghdad, Stockwell was struck by a roadside bomb, resulting in the loss of her left leg. She retired from the military after the accident, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for her service. Along with taking an interest in swimming, Stockwell worked as a prosthetist and served on the board of directors of the Wounded Warrior Project. Besides her numerous achievements in triathlons, Stockwell holds the title of the first Iraq veteran to be chosen for the Paralympics.
A 36-year military career filled with firsts concluded when Brig. General Joane Mathews — the first female Native American general officer in the Army National Guard — retired from her position as Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army.
“As much as I absolutely love my job, the Soldiers and families I work for and with, we have so many outstanding leaders who are ready for that next step,” Mathews said in explaining her decision. “I’ve never been one to hold anyone up.”
Mathews’ military career began in 1986 when she completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. She spent 11 years on active duty as a helicopter pilot and flew numerous missions in northern Iraq’s no-fly zone as part of Operation Provide Comfort. When her time on active duty concluded, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
“It was a bit of a culture shock,” she recalled. “But what impressed me the most were the Soldiers. It amazed me how dedicated our Guard members were, then and now — having to comply with the same active-duty regulations and policies, with a lot less time to meet those requirements.”
Mathews spent time during her first drill weekends talking with and learning about her fellow Soldiers.
“I remember being so impressed with what they do on the civilian side,” Mathews said. “It reinforced to me, again, not to judge people by their rank — because a private, a specialist or second lieutenant with just a few years in the military may have years of leadership experience or be a subject matter expert in their career field. Everyone has something to offer and to give.”
During her time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Mathews earned numerous awards and achieved several milestones. She was the state’s first non-medical female colonel, the first female commander of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment and the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female brigade commander when she assumed command of the 64th Troop Command brigade.
She was the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female chief of staff for Army, and the first female assistant adjutant general for readiness and training when she was promoted to brigadier general. The Fish Clan member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians became the first female Native American general officer in the entire Army National Guard.
In June 2018, after two years as assistant adjutant general, Mathews became the deputy adjutant general for Army, responsible to the adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s performance and readiness for federal and state missions.
“The deputy adjutant general Army position carries a lot of responsibility,” Mathews said. “I care so much for our Soldiers, and I hurt when they hurt. People have and always will be my No. 1 priority.”
Mathews understood that many Soldiers are reluctant to speak to a general officer, so she tried to be as approachable as possible.
“I didn’t let the position go to my head,” she said. “I do my best to try and keep people at ease when speaking with them. I also speak from the heart when I am in front of Soldiers or even one-on-one. I really believe people know when one is being honest and sincere, showing care and concern. They can also see right through you when you’re not.”
Her attitude will undoubtedly serve her well in her current role as director of the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy. She began the position in late April, upon the selection of her replacement as deputy adjutant general for Army.
Mathews said she advised Wisconsin’s new deputy adjutant general for Army to stay out of the office and away from the desk as much as possible.
“Walk around the building, talk to Soldiers, Airmen and our civilian employees and retiree volunteers,” she said. “Get out and travel — visit our Soldiers in their environment. And most importantly, when you speak with folks, listen to what they have to say. Be an active listener and a voice of change for them — a change for the better.”
Mathews carried on a legacy of military service in her family and expressed hope when she was promoted to brigadier general that she would be a positive role model for other female service members. She credited her success to her family, both biological and military.
“I have been so very blessed to have worked with so many dedicated Soldiers, Airmen and civilians throughout my career,” Mathews said. “I am grateful for my military career and am happy I will still be a part of the Department of Military Affairs family in my next adventure in life.”
Approximately 62,000 active-duty Soldiers transition out of the U.S. Army every year. For me, that process began when I started my terminal leave in May 2021. After nearly a decade with the U.S. military, serving in Iraq, South Korea and Fort Hood, I finally found myself settling down in Austin, Texas. Although I had years of experience in leading global operations and project management, I still had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had the thought every transitioning Soldier experiences.
I need a job, and I need it now!
Thankfully, my father, Peter Newell, a successful Army officer turned entrepreneur, gave me solid advice: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to reach your potential.
I started with a severe case of imposter syndrome, with the unshakable feeling that the skills and talents I accrued in my eight years in the Army wouldn’t translate to the civilian world. In units where commanders valued innovation, as in deployments, I exceeded expectations and helped drive mission success because I was able to try new approaches. But under other commanders, my ideas and abilities were limited to the rank on my chest. To quote a former commander the first time I had met him: “Defense Innovation is a 2030 vision which isn’t a real thing. If you care about this stuff, you should stop wasting time and get out of the military.”
Upon starting terminal leave, I began my journey of having conversations over “1,000 cups of coffee” to find my path.
My first 100 conversations were a mess. I was all over the place, with no structure for who I was reaching out to or how to prepare or build relationships.
When I first transitioned, I thought that I had to go to UT Austin for an MBA because I loved Austin, Texas, and wanted to stay in the city. My first 10 conversations were with my family and close mentors I’ve known for years — the next 15 included leaders in military transition at UT Austin. For conversations 26-50, my network expanded from family friends to members of my dad’s company (BMNT) and startup founders who had launched the Hacking 4 Defense academic course. It became clear receiving an MBA was not the only way a transitioning officer could be successful in civilian life.
The following 200 coffees were incredibly difficult. Conversations 51-100 included tech VPs, startup founders and seasoned military officers about to transition themselves. A VP from a large tech company told me he would never hire me because my resume sounded like an “Army ******bag,” and a startup founder told me not to waste someone’s time by not doing research into the company and preparing questions.
I realized I needed to not only expand my education but to better prepare myself to answer people who look past my previous achievements and ask, “OK, what are you going to provide me now?” This led me to take my first few certification courses from Coursera. After completing the Google Project Manager certification, I dove headfirst into innovation, artificial intelligence and blockchain. And I dedicated myself to completing transition support services such as those provided by the COMMIT Foundation.
Those first 250 conversations helped me learn I was drawn to space and that my strengths lie in my ability to learn and innovate in complex environments rapidly. These realizations culminated in me applying for an internship with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Phase 2: Transformational Phase
(July to September: Cups of Coffee 251-500)
It didn’t get any easier. I had depleted half of my savings and was starting a new internship in an unfamiliar field with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”
There were victories along the way — I received a full scholarship to U.C. Berkeley’s venture capital program and was accepted to AFRL’s SPECTRE fellowship. But it all suddenly stopped clicking. I had taken on way more than I could handle until one day, I sat on the floor of my closet, paralyzed with anxiety because I couldn’t choose an outfit to wear to a networking event. It was my “come to Jesus” moment.
Mental health is important in any transition into civilian life. But I ignored the signs and instead leaned into going out, eating poorly and working myself to exhaustion to try and manage the stress of transition without acknowledging what I was feeling.
To jumpstart my process, I signed up for local conferences I was interested in. Then, one evening after the Joint All Domain Command and Control conference, I headed to a local bar to get some work done for SpaceWERX. A group of men from the conference walked in, and I decided to introduce myself. A couple of beers and hours of conversation later, I had my first meaningful job offer in the artificial intelligence industry with a company called BigBear.ai, which uses AI and machine learning to facilitate data-driven decision support for government leaders.
Phase 3: Networking and Personal Growth
(September to January: Cups of Coffee 501-1,000+)
My number of “coffees” exponentially increased between September and January. I ended up accepting the job offer from BigBear.ai as the Senior Account Executive for Defense Innovation. I turned the offer with BigBear.ai down twice before accepting, when I finally stopped doubting my own skill set.
After being hired, conversations 501-1,000 were focused on networking for work and personal growth. The first half of these were internal in the company. I treated the first month with BigBear.ai as if my job was to get to know the people in the company and their challenges. My biggest takeaway: Companies need to be steadfast in their support of hiring veterans to give veterans the confidence and reassurance that their service would be an asset in their careers.
On March 28, 1979, a sightseeing flight crashed into a mountain in Antarctica, killing all of the 279 people on board. An investigation determined that the crew had not been informed of a two-degree correction made to the plane’s flight path the night before, causing the plane’s navigation system to route them toward Mount Erebus instead of through McMurdo Sound.
Two degrees doesn’t sound like a lot, but in aviation terms, even one degree is huge.
That’s why pilots are taught the 1 in 60 rule, which states that after 60 miles, a one-degree error in heading will result in straying off course by one mile.
Which means the lake you planned to fly over could turn out to be a mountain.
Keep in mind the 1 in 60 rule isn’t just a navigation aid; it’s a mental framework designed to reinforce the importance of making constant course evaluations and corrections.
If you don’t, the farther you go, the more off course you end up.
Which makes the 1 in 60 rule a great mental framework for accomplishing your own goals.
The 1 in 60 Rule in Action
We all have dreams. The people who accomplish their dreams don’t just dream, though. They create processes. They build systems. They establish routines that keep them on track and ensure they reach their ultimate goal.
Oddly enough, they don’t obsess over their goals. They obsess over their processes because greatness results partly from inspiration but mostly from consistent, relentless effort.
And they stay on course because they constantly evaluate their progress and make smart corrections to their process.
Want to turn a dream into a reality? Follow this simple process.
Start with an extremely specific goal.
The further off course you start, the further off course you’ll wind up. That’s why setting a specific goal is so important.
Say you want to get in better shape and be healthier. “Be healthier” sounds great, but it’s too vague. How will you know when you’re “in better shape,” much less, “healthier”?
“Lose 10 pounds in 30 days” is a specific, objective and most critically, measurable goal. You know exactly what you want to accomplish, which means you can create a process designed to get you there. You can create a solid diet plan. You can create an effective workout plan.
You can monitor your progress and make smart course corrections.
Or say you want to grow your business. “Increase revenue” sounds great but is too vague. “Land five new customers this month” is specific, objective and measurable. You know exactly what you want to accomplish, which means you can create a process designed to get you there.
Bottom line? You can’t set an accurate course until you know exactly where you want to go.
Then, forget your goal.
Maintaining a laser-like focus on a goal is critical.
One of the biggest reasons people give up on huge goals is the distance between here, where you are today, and there, where you someday hope to be. If you did only $10,000 in sales last month and your target is $1 million in sales per month, the distance between here and there seems insurmountable.
That’s one reason most incredibly successful people set a goal and then focus all their attention on creating and following a process designed to achieve that goal. The goal still exists, but their real focus is on what they do today.
And making sure they do it again tomorrow.
Because consistency matters: What you do every day is who you are.
And who you will become.
Focus on your process.
Health care providers are taught to check medications three times before delivering to patients. Not because the process itself is complex.
But because the consequence of error is so great.
The same is true for you; the consequence of “error,” in terms of time, effort, money, etc., when you don’t achieve a goal can be considerable. (And depressing: No matter how often you hear “fail fast, fail often,” failure still pretty much sucks.)
Pilots use the 1 in 60 rule to remind themselves to constantly monitor their progress and make quick course corrections.
You also know where you want to go. But you’ll never get there if you don’t regularly monitor and revise your plan based on your progress.
And if you don’t start out on the right path, remember, the 1 in 60 rule states that starting out, one degree off means winding up one mile off 60 miles later.
So don’t just correct your course along the way. Create and follow a process that is proved to work. Pick someone who has achieved something you want to achieve. Deconstruct his or her process.
Then follow it, and along the way, make small corrections as you learn what works best for you.
That way, when you travel your own version of 60 miles, you’ll arrive precisely where you hoped to be.
Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.
Your civilian resume summarizes your background and experience, and it’s likely to be the first information about you that an employer will see.
With your military service, you already have impressive skills and knowledge. These tips will help you make a resume that will stand out.
Collect Your Assets
Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) through the Department of Defense. Your VMET will give an overview of the skills you’ve gained in the military.
Make a list of your technical skills.
Computer technicians, mechanics and engineers have skills that can be easily converted to civilian jobs.
Convert your military job training into civilian terms. For example, budgeting is a critical skill in civilian companies.
Make a list of your intangible skills. This list should include leadership, discipline and a strong work ethic.
Select Your Resume Style
Your resume should highlight your unique qualifications. There are different ways to organize your resume. Pick a style that highlights your strengths.
Your employment history is highlighted in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.
Include your responsibilities and accomplishments under each particular job.
Your skills are highlighted. Your work history and gaps are de-emphasized.
Skills and accomplishments should be divided into specific areas of expertise.
Your skills earned in various jobs are highlighted using a job history format.
Your specific skills will form the main body of the resume, followed by a concise employment history.
Include These Essential Components:
Contact information: In the heading, include your name, address, phone number and email address.
Objective or job target: In one or two lines, say what kind of job you’re looking or applying for and what makes you uniquely qualified.
Summary of qualifications: This is a bulleted section just below the objective in the visual center of the resume.
Include five or six lines highlighting the skills that qualify you for the job.
This will include your experience, certifications and related training.
Title this section Highlights of Qualifications, Summary of Skills or Summary of Experience.
Employment history: This will vary depending on the type of resume.
Education and training: List colleges, schools or military training schools you attended. You can list the school’s name and location, but not necessarily the dates.
Special skills: Include foreign languages, computer skills or any other relevant skills that will set you apart.
Make Your Resume Unique to You
You’ve got the basics down. Now use your resume to showcase your unique abilities and accomplishments.
Target your resume. Change and tailor your resume for the job you’re targeting. Learn what this employer looks for and highlight those qualities.
Translate everything into civilian terms.
For example, replace “officer in charge” with “managed.”
Take out the acronyms and use terms civilians understand. For example, replace “SNOIC for 2d MarDiv G-3, planning and executing all logistics for operations conducted in our AOR” with “Supervised staff of 15 people. Planned and coordinated operations conducted by various subordinate units within our division.”
Include your accomplishments. Use numbers to highlight achievements, if possible. For example, “Managed budget of $100K” or “Reduced training time from 26 weeks to 24 weeks.”
Be concise. Limit your resume to one or two pages.
Include volunteer experience if it’s relevant to the job. Volunteer experience can add to credibility and character.
Leave off unnecessary details. Don’t include marital status, height and weight or religious affiliation. Leave off salary information unless it was explicitly requested.
Check spelling and accuracy. Proofread your resume, ask someone else to proofread it and read your resume backward to catch typos.
Write a Cover Letter
Always send a cover letter with your resume. Your cover letter will explain why you’re interested in the position and how your skills make you the best choice for the job.
Get the name of the person in charge of hiring. Send your email or cover letter to them. Usually, you can just call the company and ask for their name.
Mention the job that you’re applying for in the first paragraph. Focus on describing how your skills and abilities can help the company.
Keep it to one page. Use a business-letter format.
Always follow up. Mention that you will call to follow up, and don’t forget to do it.
Tap Into Resume-Building Tools
These websites have tools to help you build your resume and translate your military credentials and experience into civilian skills. They reference veterans, but they’re also for active duty.
Veterans.gov from the U.S. Department of Labor has an online job exchange with access to employers, skills translators, resume builders, interest profilers, etc.
The Department of Veterans Affairs at va.gov offers an interest profiler, educational and career counseling and links to other job resources, such as support for veteran-owned small businesses.
Prepare for Your Job Search Early
The earlier you can start your preparation for civilian employment, the better. The Transition Assistance Program office on your installation can help you get started. Military OneSource also offers the Transitioning Veterans specialty consultation to further assist you in transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Taking the next step in your career can be intimidating, but it’s far from impossible. You are qualified and equipped with the right tools. Go get them!
The secret is out. The most successful people in the world don’t just rely on raw talent alone. Those that achieve the honorable, work with someone who can take them further and help them get there faster.Those who become champions in life recognize that real growth requires the humility to seek help. And they understand that success is a journey that requires a trustworthy guide — a coach.
If you are seeking to be more, do more or have more in your life, you cannot go at it alone.
Ask the masters of success. They will tell you that you can get to your destination faster and with less friction, if you leverage your relationship with someone who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way to tap into your potential. Obstacles and roadblocks become opportunities for growth and achievement in the presence of an advocate who believes in your greatness.
I had the opportunity to meet and connect with multiple champions of change. In the 5th grade, I received private music lessons from Arthur C. Bartner, the long-time noted band director for the USC Trojan Marching Band, who influenced 50 years of musicians. As a 6th grader, I had the opportunity to meet the famed American-Bahamian actor and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Sidney Poitier, who was instrumental in diversifying Hollywood and paving the way for Black actors. By the time I was in junior high school, I had spent my afternoons in the attentive presence of six-term African American Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, who influenced two generations of policymakers and leaders. I attended Hollywood High School surrounded by the children of entertainment giants, and my undergraduate alma mater is the home of the “Long Gray Line,” from which many past, present and future world and business leaders ascend.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I heard Zig Ziglar say, “You can have anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want,” that I began to understand the importance of relationships. I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Give and Take by Adam Grant and many, many more books on building effective relationships. I began learning the principles and honing the practices that enabled me to connect with and add value to people who are making a difference.
John Maxwell’s Law of the Inner Circle states, “a leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.” In this day of strategic alliances and power networks, it’s literally impossible to have long-lasting success without world-class relationship skills, including in social media. According to Jessica Leber, a staff editor and writer for Fast Company’s Co.Exist, the old six degrees of separation theory has shrunk (because of Facebook and other social media). You are now merely four people away from every other human being on Earth. Just think about it! You know Bill, who knows Judy, who knows Lynn, who knows Javier, who knows anyone else you would ever want to know. In essence, you are networked with the entire world. As such, you have a direct connection to people who can empower you to achieve new opportunities and live at a higher level.
So, don’t go at it alone. Life does not have to be an obscure and isolated game of thrones. Life can be an amazing experience where the battle does end when you die. Like the card game where you challenge your opponent to produce a card with a higher face value than your card, the player with the high card wins. You can stack the deck and ensure that you hold the high card more often by connecting your life to someone who lifts you up, encourages you and shares your vision for the future. A coach can increase the likelihood that you will come out on top by empowering you to do all you can with all you are for those who most need what you have to offer.
You cannot play the game of life with just your unique talents. Success is a team sport, and you must leverage empowering relationships. Apply the Law of the Inner Circle and surround yourself with people you admire and respect: people you want to become like as you grow. Find someone who can get you in the game.
Patrick E. Alcorn is the Founder of Business Beyond the Battlefield Conference and Director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center University of Texas at Arlington. He is a Certified Executive Leadership Coach who empowers entrepreneurs to get up, get out and keep moving.
Armed Forces Bank (AFB), a full-service military bank committed to serving those who serve since 1907, today announces a new partnership with the U.S. Army Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) Program. Working together with PaYS, Armed Forces Bank will guarantee soldiers an interview and possible employment after serving in the Army.
The PaYs program is a strategic partnership between the U.S. Army and a cross section of corporations and public sector agencies. The program provides America’s soldiers with an opportunity to serve their country while they prepare for their futures. PaYS partners promise soldiers five job interviews, job mentoring, and the potential for employment as they return to civilian life.
To celebrate this partnership, Armed Forces Bank will hold a ceremonial signing on Thursday, August 18, at 3 p.m. at the Fort Leavenworth branch (320 Kansas Ave). Members of the media are invited to attend, but advance clearance is required. Key U.S. Army and Armed Forces Bank representatives will be on hand for the ceremony, which will include the singing of the national anthem, remarks by 1st Lieutenant Caleb Plug from the U.S. Army, a plaque presentation, flag salute and refreshments.
U.S. Army Captain Micah Robbins will be signing the Memorandum of Agreement along with Jodi Vickery, EVP and Director of Military Consumer Lending for AFB. U.S. Army General Robert Arter, former Board Member for Armed Forces Bank and retired Commanding General of the Sixth United States Army, will also be in attendance. General Arter’s military awards and decorations are extensive. They include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.
The Fort Leavenworth ceremony location is significant, as it is the oldest active U.S. Army post west of the Mississippi River. Established in 1827, the military base has devoted more than 190 years of service to the nation.
“Our partnership with PaYS is a natural extension of our longstanding commitment to support the distinct needs of military service members and their families,” said Paul Holewinski, President & CEO of Armed Forces Bank. “We’re honored to join forces with the U.S. Army to connect soldiers with the business community, as they return to civilian life.”
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 service members exit the military, often with uncertainty about transitioning into the civilian workforce and without a defined career path. Soldiers who participate in the PaYS program gain valuable leadership, professional and technical skills, as well as experience and confidence, as they pursue career opportunities. In addition, service members gain access to employment possibilities with organizations that understand the value of their military service. In turn, PaYS provides employers with a pool of highly skilled, motivated and responsible candidates from which they can fill their personnel needs. The PaYS partnership provides a win-win situation for all.
Armed Forces Bank also is proud to work alongside U.S. Army Recruiters, Army National Guard Recruiters and local ROTC programs through PaYS to send the message of staying in school, setting goals, choosing appropriate friendships, leading a values focused life and staying off drugs. Granting employment interviews gives AFB the opportunity to mentor soldiers and newly commissioned officers on resume/interview skills and building better qualifications as they transition to private employment. Often, this will be the soldier’s first experience with interviewing in the private sector.
Armed Forces Bank’s Longstanding Military Commitment
With its headquarters in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Armed Forces Bank has been dedicated to serving military service members and their families for more than 115 years. Approximately 75% of AFB associates have some type of military affiliation either by spouse, retired themselves or their children. AFB, and its sister bank, Academy Bank, currently employ 22 veterans of the armed forces and 57 spouses of active or retired members of the armed forces.
AFB’s dedication to the military includes many leadership initiatives and awards:
AFB is a founding partner of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. MSEP connects military spouses with hundreds of partner-employers committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses for long-term, portable careers with advancement opportunities.
AFB is a leader within the S.Army’s Training with Industry (TWI) program, a yearlong training program with AFB for one Officer and one Non-Commissioned Officer in the Army Finance and Comptroller Corps. The TWI program is designed to take selected officers out of the military environment and expose them to the latest commercial business practices, organizational structures and cultures, technology development processes and corporate management techniques.
For each of the last eight years, AFB also has earned the “Military Saves Designation of Savings Excellence” by the Association of Military Banks. The program helps service members and their families save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.
AFB was named “Distinguished Bank of the Year” for 10 of the last 11 years by at least one branch of the military. Nominated by the Command Leadership at military installations around the country, the award recognizes AFB’s leadership in serving military service members and their families with a vast array of banking services, installation support and financial education. In 2019 and 2020, the Department of the Army and Navy recognized AFB. In 2021, AFB received 13 nominations from the Army, Navy and Air Force with the award ceremony to be conducted at the end of August 2022.
AFB was named the official financial services partner for A Million Thanks, a national organization that collects and distributes letters of support and thanks directly to active duty, reserve and veteran military men and women around the world.
“As a spouse of a 20-year Army veteran, I understand the importance of stepping up and providing service members with an interview and the potential for employment,” said Jodi Vickery, EVP and Director of Military Consumer Lending for AFB. “Transitioning from the military is not easy and our partnership with PaYS is an important way to actively express our gratitude for the many sacrifices military men and women endure.”
Armed Forces Bank offers a variety of exciting career paths in the fast-growing banking and financial services industry. Serving both active and retired military, as well as civilian clients around the world, AFB values former service members as employees. AFB provides a wide variety of training, development and mentorship programs for veterans across the company.
“The best way to honor a service member is to hire one,” adds Tom McLean, SVP and Regional Military Executive for Armed Forces Bank. “We thank our Armed Forces for protecting our freedoms. There’s no place else where people can dream such big dreams and reach their goals. Our business and our country will only improve by employing more military veterans.”
About Armed Forces Bank
Armed Forces Bank (AFB), founded and headquartered in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is a full-service military bank committed to serving those who serve since 1907. With 23 locations, Armed Forces Bank has more on-installation locations than any military bank in the country. Armed Forces Bank provides affordable, personal and convenient banking and financial services to both active and retired military, as well as civilian clients in all 50 states and around the world. AFB has $1.2 billion in assets and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dickinson Financial Corporation, a $3.5 billion bank holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. AFB’s sister bank, Academy Bank, is a full-service community bank with over 70 branch locations in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. For more, visit www.afbank.com. Member FDIC.
About the Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) Program
Check out our in-person and virtual events calendars for what’s coming soon! Employment opportunities await, and one-on-one matchmaking sessions can connect you with companies and government agencies looking for qualified veteran candidates!