Join Florent Groberg for an in-depth discussion in this video Casey McEuin's transition story, part of Florent Groberg on Finding Your Purpose after Active Duty.
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- I joined the military back in 2001, right after the Olympic trials for Taekwondo. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, so I enlisted into the army back in 2001, enlisted as an infantryman, and I served 15 years, multiple locations all over the world. Two deployments to Afghanistan. In my last deployment to Afghanistan I was injured and had some severe complications after those injuries.
Those complications ended up making me not be able to walk for almost six months, and then once I was able to start walking again, I had to start my transition out of the army. I had decided it was best for me to medically retire out of the army, so I medically retired in October 2014. So when I went through my transition, after being injured in 2011 in Afghanistan, I went through about two and a half years of extensive rehab, rehabilitation and physical therapy to get to a point where I was able to going to be able to operate personnel of my own.
As soon as I medically retired in October of 2014, I found myself looking for work. I was that typical veteran that was like, I've got this, I'm going to be marketable, everybody is going to want to hire me. I was unemployed for nine months, I worked at a car wash just to make ends meet. I spent about three months living out of my Jeep just because my disability that I was getting because of my injuries, that was paying my bills, and I was like, I'm going to maintain my responsibilities, taking care of my children, taking care of my bills, that getting a place to live wasn't on the radar, so I just lived out of my Jeep, continuously looking for work, until I started looking for the veteran resources because I was desperate, so I actually am a product of Hire Heroes USA, they're the ones that helped me transition from being an unemployed veteran, an unemployed homeless veteran, into a successful transition specialist that I am today.
So the emotions that you feel when you're going through situations like that, it's like a rollercoaster ride. You go from having this team camaraderie for over a decade, you have people that you can rely on, you have your battle buddies to your left and to your right that if you're struggling, you can just lean on them and they're going to help you take care of it. When you transition out, a lot of the soldiers that I had were disbanded, they were going to different locations, put in different units. Some of them were deploying, so a lot of them, the only way you can keep in contact is through social media, because everybody is all over the world, so when you're retired, you go into a location, so like, I moved back to Seattle, you kind of just rely on the people that you know.
But then everybody, it's the hustle-bustle world that it's trying to find your niche, trying to find where you fit in. There are times where depression kicks in. You start feeling like, okay, I'm a veteran, nobody wants to hire me. You start getting that there's a stigmatization out there that nobody wants to hire a vet, that I am not marketable because nobody is calling me back on my resume. I would put out 100 resumes, I wouldn't get a single interview.
And then when I would get an interview, then I would be too overbearing, or I would be too motivated or too confident. So it really hits you deep in the heart just because you've given so much for your nation, then all of a sudden you come home and you feel like you can't even get a civilian job. So you kind of go through the highs and lows. For me personally it was the moments I spent with my children, those were my highs, those are the times that I kind of put aside my struggles and I just focused on the happy moments with my children.
Asking for help is one of the biggest problems, I won't say problems, but one of the biggest things that veterans have a hard time doing. Because the thing is we're taught to be self-reliant, we're taught to be able to not just take care of ourselves but to take care of everybody else, so we want everybody to lean on us. But when we need the help ourselves, we have a hard time actually reaching out. So for me, just that one step forward was like, that was one of the biggest steps of my life because it's brought me to where I am today.
For me it was just, I was ordering supplements on an online site, and it said, do you want to donate a free gift to a nonprofit organization? I read up a little bit on Hire Heroes USA, I said yeah, I'll donate my free gift to Hire Heroes USA, read on them, was like, well, let me see what they can do for me. We went through the entire assessment phase. Obviously the rapport-building, getting to know each other, within two days she had my resume completely done and she said that, you have some of the skills that we look for in a veteran transition specialist.
So she saw something just through my experience in the military that would benefit Hire Heroes USA, and she had mentioned that they were hiring a veteran transition specialist in Seattle, and I was like, well hey, that's only 15 minutes from where I live, sign me up. And she's like, well, let me call the manager. Basically got the manager to call me that same day, I get a telephone interview, she brought me in for an interview two days later, sat down with the interview. I think the hardest part was after the interview not hearing anything for three weeks, and then actually on my birthday last year, they had sent me my offer letter and offered me the job.
At the time when I was actually going through the process with Hire Heroes USA, I was working at a baby store, and it's kind of funny to go from shooting bullets to selling baby stuff, but I did what I had to. I kind of did feel like I was at my lowest point, 'cause I was desperate, because that was the first time that I had ever actually asked for help. I had leaned on a veteran service organization that I had no recollection of what they did, who they were, what they offered, or if they were reputable, because you hear all the horror stories about different nonprofits, but I took a chance, so I was at the lowest point in my life.
For me personally it was just a pride thing. I was too proud to ask for help. But once I did, and I saw the impact and the effect that it had on my life, I was sold 100%.
Discover how to understand your strengths and value, where your skills fit into today's job market, and how to translate your experience into a solid resume. Learn how a mentor can help you navigate the transition and open up new opportunities. With Flo's advice, you can find a new purpose and continue the journey you started in the military—bringing your talents to bear on a whole new mission in life.
- Taking initiative
- Understanding your value
- Translating your experiences
- Building your resume
- Using a mentor
- Setting realistic expectations
- Building a network
- Transitioning into a new job
- Bonus videos featuring stories of transition from veterans