What follows is a guest post by Byron Chen of SuccessVets.com. I like what he is doing and asked him to write this for the Veteran Resource Podcast listeners.
There are literally thousands of veteran service organizations in the United States. I remember when I first left the Marine Corps I had a difficult time figuring out what resources I needed to make the transition successfully. The abundance of choice can be overwhelming. As much as the military tries, the training provided for separating service members is often too short of an affair to cover all the challenges one will face, let alone where to find help. In these times when I felt lost, the best source of information for me came from other veterans. I’d reach out to them through friends, or LinkedIn, and they would give me great advice on what to do and where to find resources, whether it was for help job searching, prepping for interviews, or developing a mentor relationship. This is what inspired me to start SuccessVets. Much like the Veteran Resource Podcast, SuccessVets was founded as an informational blog and interview podcast, specifically for veterans looking for advice on building successful careers and lives after the military.
How Can SuccessVets Help You?
The focus for each episode of SuccessVets is teasing out lessons learned from experts and other veterans who have gone through what transitioning service members currently face. I ask them about the challenges they overcame when leaving the military and how they figured out what to do. It’s been great to hear from CEO’s, candidates at top tier business schools, and regular people who are happy in their jobs talk about the same difficult journey I had. The interviews are part biography, part therapy, and part guidance on what to do to stay motivated, get on the right track, and find satisfaction in the work one does, every day.
What Advice Do Guests Give?
One of the questions I ask every guest is, “What resources would you recommend that helped you with your transition?” I’ve learned about organizations that help entrepreneurs with business training, teaching wounded warriors how to play golf, and even getting therapy for PTSD through horseback riding. We also touch upon books to read, and tactics on networking, interviewing, and job searching. Under the show notes page of every podcast episode, I provide the links to resources and benefits mentioned by guests, as well as a summary of the things we talked about in the interview. I’d recommend you start searching there. If you have specific questions, look for guests that are doing something similar to what you want to do after the military. Just about every guest provides their contact information, so you even have a way to follow up and reach out to them.
What I’ve Learned
After interviewing over 50 guests on my podcast, I have found a great deal of support and inspiration for my own life since becoming a veteran. The transition was a humbling experience. But I’ve discovered a network of people who are amazingly generous with their time and are willing to help other veterans any way they can. I did not know many of my guests personally before I reached out to ask them to jump on my show. And many of them are busy people — executives, entrepreneurs, and grad students. They all agreed because of the one thing that ties us all together. We all committed to serve this nation. Now, we’re all committed to serve each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re not sure about you next step.
Focus On One At A Time
If you’re like me, when you find out about all the available services out there, you get excited and want to take advantage of them all. It’s a natural response. But I’ve found that it’s important to take a step back and analyze what are your priorities. Only after that should you seek help in those areas. It’s like knocking out a to do list. Try to do everything at once and you get nothing done. Be systematic, and you finish checking things off before you know it. At the end of the day these organizations are providing support to you. What is most important to you? That sometimes, is a more difficult questions to answer, but understanding your most important needs yields better results in the long run.
Give Back Where You Can
Many of these organizations succeed on the donations and support of others. If they’ve helped you, spread the word. Most of these non-profits don’t have a huge marketing budget — which is a good thing, because they spend the money on providing services. But that means they walk a fine line between providing outstanding service, and going out of business. They appreciate volunteers, donations, and especially good reviews. The more success they have justifies more money from donors. There are also many “service” organizations out there that don’t actually help that many veterans. The best way we can help each other, and help those organizations that are truly supporting veterans’ causes, is to direct people to the best ones. You only need to help one other person, to make your efforts worthwhile.
About Byron Y. Chen
Since leaving the Marine Corps, I’ve been on a mission to pass on success stories and lessons learned from other veterans who have made the transition. I started a transition resource site to help service members with their careers and lives after the military through articles, videos, and podcasts. You can learn more about salary negotiations and find out more about my book, Barracks To Boardrooms: Negotiating Your Salary After Serving In The Military, on SuccessVets.com