“What’s the best way to help these guys?” said recently retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Boggs. The chief warrant officer of 20 years attended an event at the Soldier Support Center on Oct. 22 about improving valuable skills in the civilian workplace and how to look professional while doing so.
“There’s nothing like a person and a good suit,” Boggs said.
Tables formed a semi-circle around a projector screen, as a banquet table lined the back wall near a coat rack hosting dry-cleaned suits in plastic wrapping. A mannequin bust wearing a suit and pocket square presented itself to the attendees who listened closely to the speaker, speaking to the text on the screen.
The event, Operation Exit Strategy, was headlined by the giveaway of 32 suits via Bogg’s nonprofit, Addow. The event also featured a lecture by Kevin Crumrine, a manager at PPD — a pharmaceutical research company.
The two issues often faced by Soldiers and veterans is upon leaving active duty, the skills which allowed them to serve honorably don’t necessarily translate into the civilian workforce.
David Schroeder, a Pathfinder scout with the USO, couldn’t agree more. His role is that of a liaison for communicating resource opportunities to Soldiers and aiding them in finding purpose out of uniform.
“It’s not only functioning in a civilian workplace,” Schroeder said. “It’s computer skills; it’s transferrable certifications; it’s maximizing the skills the Army’s given them and translating that to corporate appeal.”
The audience was comprised of Soldiers with fewer than 12 months left in active service. Word of mouth and minimal marketing led to a mixture of attendees, both those with several kids and decades of service and those in their early 20s and single.
“It’s a group of likeminded individuals to bump ideas and network,” Schroeder said. Schroeder himself left the Army as a captain in 2010.
“I honestly wish we had this back then,” he said regarding the now-shrinking gap between the military and corporate spheres. “We often needed a little more help with our resume or finding something we could wholeheartedly give ourselves to.”
With the donation of the suits and the conclusion of the monthly lecture – which will feature a speaker from Oracle in November – Boggs expresses hope that the suits’ recipients would now have a better chance of finding another path, one of fulfillment and camaraderie, even out of uniform.
“Addow is Latin for ‘to inspire,’” he said. “Not only is this a way for us to have a tangible way to say ‘thank you,’ as veterans are always a piece of our community, but a chance to inspire them as well.”