From the Board

From the Board:
J. Skylar Burgess
Colonel (USAF, Retired)
RLF Board member and Chair, Veterans Employment Initiative
Managing Director with Deloitte & Touche

 

As a Board member and Chair of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation Veterans Employment Initiative, I became involved with RLF to more effectively help our veterans with the (unseen) remnants of their military service lead more productive and fulfilling lives.

I flirted with military service from my junior year of high school in Columbus, Ohio until I finally pulled the trigger and joined the Air Force through the Air Force Officer Training School the year after I graduated from The Ohio State University. I spent 6½ years on active duty serving in Major Air Command and Headquarters level personnel assignments before transitioning to a civilian career in medical sales.
The transition I made was very challenging and became even more of a factor when I rejoined the Air Force through the Air Force Reserve. I retired after spending an additional 23 years in the reserve component serving in Milwaukee, Dayton, and Pittsburgh.

It was often a challenge balancing my military commitments with my civilian employment, especially as I moved into more senior level positions in my civilian career. With that said, I was fortunate in that I was employed in sales and sales-related roles that afforded me a tremendous amount of flexibility. Many of my reserve colleagues did not have that luxury and experienced significant challenges with deployments, annual tours of duty and many times with the monthly training requirements.

I noticed a significant change following 9-11 when employers started to place more value on the sacrifices service members were experiencing. At Deloitte, I was fortunate to find an employer that relished the veteran’s service experience and made great accommodations, and also provided opportunities. I became involved with Deloitte’s CORE Leadership program (Career Opportunity Redefinition and Exploration). The CORE Leadership and Fundamentals programs help transitioning veterans identify their unique strengths and brand to pursue a career that is a good fit for their attributes. CORE Leadership, lasting three days at Deloitte University, has supported the transition of over 1,000 veterans since 2013. To date, 94 percent of these participants who have told us they’re actively in the job market have found employment, and 100 percent reported the program was a valuable time investment. Although CORE is not a recruiting event, 43 alumni have joined Deloitte. This program is primarily focused on junior military officers (less than 10 years’ service) and has gained significant support with employers throughout the USA.

I met Dr. Chrisanne Gordon when I participated in the Cardinal Health Annual Golf Outing to support RLF. I was impressed with the mission and saw a real parallel with my passion helping veterans within Deloitte. The vets that RLF focuses on have unique challenges much different than what I experienced. I felt very strongly that my experiences with my own transitions and the experiences with Deloitte’s programs would be an asset to the RLF mission. That is why I became involved. If I can give back and help someone make that transition smoother I have helped one of America’s heroes.