Colonel Larry Phelps Finds Employment After Service to Our Nation

When the lights click on at the Contract Professionals, Inc. (CPI) offices long before 8 a.m., the CPI staff sets to work with one goal in mind; to put veterans to work. A global staffing top secret cleared technical solution company founded by Steve York in 1982, and headquartered in Waterford, Michigan; CPI has spent more than 34 years partnering with companies to provide work to veterans after they have been discharged from the military.

“As a veteran and the CEO of CPI, I feel a deep obligation to ensure that my fellow veterans are given the opportunity to thrive long after their military careers have ended,” said York. “When they succeed in the civilian marketplace, then CPI has done its job.”

Of particular note is the successful placement and career advancement of Colonel Larry Phelps. One of ABC’s Persons’ of the Week 2006, Colonel Phelps has made a career out of making a difference.

Responsible for notifying, comforting and working with families when a soldier loses their life in the line of duty or if they are lost in battle, Colonel Larry Phelps was the commander of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Rear Detachment. In short, he was responsible for the 18,000 families left behind as the troops went over seas to Iraq. Part of his job was to manage the process for those who made the supreme sacrifice. But more than the bearer of bad news, Colonel Phelps cared for every family member, attending to every possible need.

Colonel Phelps handled everything from getting lawns mowed to managing financial issues. He was also the last person to see every soldier before their deployment. “We really thought it was very important for each soldier to see the rear detachment commander as they boarded the plane. It was a tangible sign that we were taking care of them and their families. We took it all very seriously,” said Colonel Phelps. “We wanted to be there and give reassurance and shake their hands. If there was uncertainty in their eyes, we wanted them to know that we were standing watch.”

Colonel Phelps’s position was created after the first Gulf War. Before then, all of the care giving was the responsibility of the wives and husbands left behind.

Colonel Phelps enlisted in the Army in 1978. For the next 32 years, he would develop a highly advanced skill set, which would ultimately position him as an extremely desirable candidate for employment in the business sector.

As a Commander of a Sustainment Brigade, his last position in the Army, Phelps honed his skills in supply, maintenance, transportation, human resources, finances, health services, field services, and the entire process at it relates to the contracting and procurement of business.

Colonel Phelps also commanded various units throughout his Army career, which sharpened his leadership and personnel management skills. I rely on my leadership skills on a regular basis, now that I’m in the business community. I learned a great deal about planning, resourcing and directing large groups of people, in order to accomplish a common mission,” said Colonel Phelps. “The Army is a team. And team building is an important skill set, which you acquire and refine as you progress up the ranks in the Army. These leadership and team building skills are every bit as necessary in the business community.”

During his tenure in the Army, Colonel Phelps was also deployed on several combat tours. He reflects now on his time in the line of fire as an opportunity to differentiate between the important and the critical. “That sense of urgency and my ability to prioritize has certainly served me very well.”

Now retired from the United States Army, Phelps understands the power and synchronicity of finding and developing the right relationships at the right time. After all, he had spent part of his military career managing the lives of those who really needed his support. He was a friend, confident, brother, father, and the all around “go to” person rolled into one.

After completing his service in the Army, Phelps found himself in the unlikely position of looking for his own mentor; someone who could help him transition back into a civilian job. More specifically, he was looking for a way to put the expertise he had gained in the Army to good use. “As a veteran, it’s sometimes difficult to just get your foot in the door in the very competitive marketplace,” said Colonel Phelps. “I think that’s exactly what CPI can do. They can open doors and connect you to great companies.”

When Colonel Phelps got in touch with CPI, they knew he was uniquely qualified to take the skills and discipline he developed during his years of service, and apply it to the civilian workplace. Because CPI understands how to help veterans make a smooth transition from active duty to civilian employment, CPI’s team of recruiters set to work to find him the perfect fit.

Although smaller in scale, CPI is joining Fortune 500 companies across America in a concerted effort to employ veterans. The 100,000 Jobs Mission will hire an additional 100,000 U.S. military veterans by 2020. The coalition consists of companies from every industry including Detroit-based GM, BAE Systems, IBM, Aetna, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Halliburton, Western Union, Bridgestone, Merck, Grainger and several more. And there’s more. Companies like Disney, Starbucks and Capital One Financial all have their own programs that seek to target, train and employ veterans. CPI is proud to share the same vision of some of the best-known companies in the world.

“This didn’t happen by accident,” said Colonel Phelps. “CPI was instrumental in helping me find a company where I was given the room to lead and grow. My Army team refined my leadership and technical skills during my time in the service, and now my employer, a large, DOD Michigan supplier is honing those skills even further.”

After accepting a contract position with CPI, Colonel Phelps went on to receive a direct hire position as a Senior Logistics Analyst. “CPI made it just as simple to move on to the DOD supplier, as it did for me to hire on to CPI in the first place, said Colonel Phelps. “I was armed with the great training and the experiences I had while I was employed as a contractor. After that, I felt fully prepared to take a full time direct position with my employer.”

Phelps was honored to accept an offer of full time, direct employment. “I think there were several factors that played into that decision. My time with CPI was one of them.”

Because CPI has employed over 2000 veterans since the year 2000, the company has already been leading the way. It would follow that CPI would join the nation wide movement to educate, train and provide employment to veterans. CPI is working everyday to give our veterans the opportunities they require to thrive in the new economy.

“We have a real opportunity to help companies increase their productivity and profitability. Veterans like Colonel Phelps bring a strong work ethic and the ability to seek out and fix weaknesses,” said Jim Cowper Pesident, CPI. “We aren’t doing anyone any favors. Putting veterans to work makes our economy stronger.”

One of the biggest challenges veterans face is the ability to find work that maximizes their skill set. Many vets go back to work but report that they are being under utilized. They take the job because they need to, not because they’ve been given the proper pay or the ability to utilize their advanced skill sets.

“CPI already has strong history of putting veterans to work. It’s simply a matter of bringing it to scale,” said Cowper. “Colonel Phelps is a perfect example of where opportunity, skill and positioning meet. We worked extremely hard to ensure his transition to contract work at the DOD supplier went flawlessly. We are very proud of the outcome.” Find out more about CPI at their website

Common Challenges During Readjustment to Civilian Life

Civilians may not be aware of the unique challenges that separating from military service and returning to civilian life can present. Here, we highlight some of these challenges. Veterans may find difficulty with the following:

Relating to people who do not know or understand what military personnel have experienced (and many civilians don’t know that they don’t know!).

Reconnecting with family and re-establishing a role in the family.

–Families may have created new routines during absences and both the family and the Veteran will have to adjust to changes.

Joining or creating a community.

–When moving to a new base or post, the military helps military personnel and families adjust. This structure is often not automatically in place when someone separates from the military. The Veteran and his or her family may have to find new ways to join or create a social community.

Preparing to enter the workforce.

–A Veteran may have never looked for, applied for, or interviewed for a civilian job, especially if he or she had a career in the military. These are new skills he or she will have to learn and master.

–In applying for a job, a Veteran will have to determine how to translate his or her military skills and duties into civilian terms and create a resume.

–A Veteran may have never created a resume. Instead of a resume, the military uses a Field Service Record to detail qualifications, training, and experience.

Returning to a job.

–If deployed with the National Guard or Reserve, a Service Member will have to adjust to resuming their previous job or another similar job at the same company. For some recently returning Service Members, they may find themselves behind a desk in as little as three days after leaving a combat zone.

–Returning to the job may include a period of catching up, learning new skills, or adjusting to a new position. It will also include adjusting to social changes that may have occurred in the workplace.

–During the transition back to work, some Veterans also experience worry and fear about possible job loss.

Creating structure.

–The military provides structure and has a clear chain of command. This does not naturally exist outside the military. A Veteran will have to create his or her own structure or adjust to living in an environment with more ambiguity.

Adjusting to providing basic necessities (e.g., food, clothing, housing).

–In the military, these things are not only provided, but there is often little choice (e.g., you eat at determined times in a certain place, duty station determines your dress).

–Given the lack of choices while in the military, the vast array of choices in the civilian world can sometimes be overwhelming.

Adjusting to a different pace of life and work.

–In the military, personnel do not leave until the mission is complete. In a private sector business, an employee might be expected to stop and go home at 5 p.m., whether the “mission” is complete or not. They may not be apparent to all Veterans.

–Civilian workplaces may be competitive environments, as opposed to the collaborative camaraderie of the military.

–Given the direct nature of communication in military settings, there may be subtle nuances in conversations and workplace lingo that are unfamiliar to Veterans.

Establishing services.

–A Veteran may have to learn how to get a doctor, dentist, life insurance, etc. These services were previously provided by the military.

–A Veteran may also need to navigate the paperwork and process of obtaining benefits and services from the Department of Veteran Affairs.



Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Leidos Video

USVM Commercial



About USVM

VIBN Conference

Robert Half

Upcoming Events

  1. 2-Week Virtual REBOOT Workshop
    January 9, 2023 - January 19, 2024
  2. City Career Fairs Schedule for 2023
    January 26, 2023 - November 1, 2023
  3. Small Business Expo 2023 Business Networking & Educational Events Schedule
    February 23, 2023 - December 13, 2023
  4. Your Next Mission: Is to REBOOT Your Life & Career!
    February 23, 2023 - April 6, 2023
  5. HIRE G.I. Hiring Events 2023
    March 23, 2023 - December 21, 2024