Veterans make up one of the largest cohorts of the cleared talent pool. With 200,000 service members transitioning annually, and many of them with a desire to continue to give back through government or contract work, it may seem like the jump from boots to suits would be seamless. But just because the jobs are available doesn’t mean all veterans successfully make the leap. Our February book club pick is titled ‘The Transitioned Veteran: Success Beyond Service.’ We asked author Sandy Lawrence to tell us more about why she chose to write about this topic.
Your book is titled The Transitioned Veteran: Success Beyond Service – what does it look like to be a transitioned veteran? Do you think most veterans have a good idea of what that means?
The transition is a journey; becoming ‘transitioned’ is the destination. We share 53 stories through the lens of 12 questions that offer insights on how best to experience and work through the journey of transition. What this means through this book is a means to guide and motivate those who are transitioning and read about others who have transitioned from the military and found a job in the corporate world. These are real stories from real Veterans that share their painful trials and tribulations, offering motivational insight on what worked right and what did not.
You compiled a variety of stories – describe that process – how did you find veteran stories to include?
I have my own military network as a Department of Defense contractor as well as through my volunteer efforts with the Project Management Institute. Additionally, I sought out Veterans online. I wanted to be service agnostic, and capture men, women, officers, enlisted. I was very happy that I captured veterans who transitioned recently as well as ones who had transitioned decades ago. Almost every veteran I reached out to was immediately eager to assist in sharing their story to assist future veterans to transition better. I kept the stories to 53, but there is much interest to share more!
What was one of the stories that most surprised or inspired you?
All the stories are unique, and each inspired me. That is the beauty of these stories; each veteran went through a different thought and decision process. Some planned well, some did not. This variety is what inspired me to write this book and share the stories presented. I was surprised by the candor offered by the veteran storytellers – and shared family trauma, health issues, and other issues that shaped their journey. This book offers something for everyone.
You have a management and business background – how do you apply that to helping transitioning service members?
I want service members to become their own project manager and run their transition as the highest priority project they’ve ever run. Through my DoD experience, I saw a lack of knowledge and awareness about project management in the commercial world inside the walls of the military. I’ve spent the last 5 years writing six books on transition through GR8Transitions4U.com. I help active duty and transitioning veterans learn and understand the value of project management as a career choice – with certification options to show mastery of terminology in a non-military framework.
What’s one thing you think service members tend to overlook in their transition?
There were so many great insights, I did write a summary section called “Observations & Demographics”. Of particular interest was my section on “Lessons Learned”. The most important and most common lesson learned was to proactively network. This book offers the reader a new network, a new and extended network of transitioned veterans who have ‘walked the walk.” In this book, fifty-three brave veterans collaborated with me to share their journey of transition from the military to the corporate world.
While all contributors to this book were ultimately successful, some fought harder than others had to, were completely overwhelmed, confused, or felt disgruntled because they did not quickly find a job. The obstacles and successes they shared can offer valuable lessons for others.