Veteran Transition Conference: Entrepreneurs inspire Camp Zama soldiers
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Camp Zama's Transition Service Center hosted the Veteran Transition Conference 2017 at Camp Zama Community Club Jan. 18 for Soldiers, Family Members, Veterans, Civilians, and Retirees.
Mfon Umoren, transition services manager and retirement services officer, said the conference brought various business leaders from all over the world and different walks of life to share insight and resources on how service members can successfully transition into another career.
According to Umoren, this was coordinated through American Dream University (also known as American Dream U) - a non-profit organization that seeks to envision, educate and execute, helping military families with life after the military.
"We had about 140 people roughly," said Umoren, "it was a pretty good turn out."
Umoren said he always reminds service members before getting out of the military they should start their planning early so they have more chances to do contingency planning.
"Life is transition...you have to embrace it," said Umoren.
Phil Randazzo, founder and CEO of American Dream U, said his organization focuses on helping military members with their transition, utilizing some of the world's top entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Randazzo said he brought in five entrepreneurs as guest speakers, including two retired Sailors to share their stories of successes and failures with transitioning Soldiers.
Randazzo said one of the biggest concerns he receives from Soldiers is the uncertainty of leaving the military and what skills they can take into the civilian workforce.
Randazzo said as Civilians we think Soldiers have "amazing leadership skills" and "mission-driven skills."
"They need to be able to confidently but not arrogantly let a potential employer know that they know how to get things done," he said.
Lt. Col. Dennis Ortiz, assigned to U.S. Army Japan I Corps (Forward), said one thing that stood out to him from one of the speakers: service members tend to make the mistake of living in the past or identify themselves with what they have been for the past 20 years.
"You have to live now when transitioning from the military," said Ortiz.
Ortiz said a message he received from the speakers was "keep moving forward, know where you want to go and have a plan to get there."
Chief Warrant Officer 3, Keith Dolliver, assigned to U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan, said the most impressive story to him was two of the guest speakers had successful career but gave it up later to pursue something else that they are passionate about.
That connected him more because he has been feeling the same type of conundrum when thinking about possible career options, added Dolliver.
Dolliver said they provided some encouragement to "follow what is going to make you ultimately happy rather than what is necessarily the smart choice."