This is a guest post by John Durfee.
I was one of those kids who had a small platoon of Gi Joe Figures in his toy box. Every squad had their own Duke to lead them, with a bevy of duplicate Joes to fit each combat role. I had a squad of Roadblocks to lay down suppressive fire, while a group of Snake eye ninjas would stealthily jump behind enemy lines. I loved everything about the military. It came as no surprise, as my father and grandfather were both Marines, and my uncles and older cousins were in other branches of the armed forces. Right after high school I went to my local recruitment office and enlisted. Shortly afterward, 9/11 happened and I was activated. I was successful in the military and at the end of my third deployment, I had reached the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and was married with a little girl. When my term of service ended after my third deployment I made the choice to not re-enlist. My time with the military came to its conclusion; it was now time to enlist into the white-collar workforce.
It felt like I was starting at square one. I had satisfied my life goal to be a soldier – now what? With no obvious marketable skills under my belt, and a family to support, the walls started closing in. I could clear a room and stay calm in a heavy fire fight, those were absolutes that I could work around. But all the uncertainties and responsibilities came rushing in on me, and that was something I was not familiar with. It was terrifying and stressful. Two months passed in this state, applying to entry-level jobs and not hearing back. I even thought of re-enlisting for another term of service as a few of my friends did who were in a similar situation.
In the end, it was the love and support of my family that pulled me through. They helped me realize that a “Gunny” like myself has a plenty to put on the table. Instead of looking for entry-level jobs and selling myself short, I had the skills of a leader and manager. I’ve led and walked with the strongest, fastest, slowest, and sometimes weakest, men and women and I made sure they performed their best and returned safely. I can motivate, coordinate and lead, and that’s no small feat in today’s economic battlefield.
There are other skills that all armed servicemen and women have, it’s forged into them through years of service and training. Integrity, loyalty, perseverance, discipline are now a part of who I am. Like I said, there was a short time when I was questioning myself. I had the integrity to forge on ahead despite my fear. I pulled myself together and fell back to my training. Loyalty to my country and the Corps became loyalty to my wife and daughter. Failure was not an option, as they needed me to succeed. Perseverance through PT and combat translated into perseverance in my job search, to fight through the uncertainty and drudgery of the day-to-day applications and dead ends, to keep meeting my daily goals everyday. Discipline required to keep my platoon and myself in exquisite readiness turned into discipline to not procrastinate and to come into each interview like it was my first, not my 30th.
A few weeks after my turnaround. I landed a job as a marketing manager. As a leader, I can continue to utilize my training and trained virtues by instilling the same into my employees – making my company much more successful. These principles helped me survive and thrive through my time in the military and continue to do so in the civilian world.
As for finding organizational support, the singular best veterans employment resource I found was the Tip of the Arrow Foundation. They were the first organization dedicated entirely to military women and men like me who are looking to enter the job market but have known only the military, and thus have little or no civilian work experience. They have volunteers standing by to help any military person who needs them and these folks are good at what they do.
These professional job-getters help through every step, from creating a resume to interview preparation all the way to helping you keep your job and advance quickly.