As the war in Afghanistan begins to wind down hundreds of thousands of troops are transferring quickly from the military world to the civilian world. Fewer than one percent of American citizens have served in Iraq and Afghanistan so when they get home it takes time for them to restore their relationships with the people of their neighborhoods and the companies who could hire them. It has been years since they deployed overseas so they need to relearn how to find a job and plan their longer term career.
As part of our Standing Up For Heroes Series, we are pairing veterans with mentors who can help them achieve their professional goals, and perhaps at the same time, help ease this transition. As you know many of them have been physically or mentally wounded. There are also hundreds of thousands who return home healthy and safe but they are also facing a very quick change in direction.
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One of these veterans is former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crew chief and mechanic Jennifer Vollbrecht who we met through American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce.
Jennifer, 26, served the Marines for five years. She was stationed in Al Anbar Province in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, where her job as part of a helicopter crew was to transport injured military civilians and others to the hospital. Vollbrecht was in charge of the back of the helicopter and of the door gun in the rear.
Helicopter pilots and crews have saved so many lives including mine. When my cameraman Doug Vogt and I were hit by an IED in Iraq almost 7 years ago, a helicopter crew picked us up and rushed us to the hospital and without them I would certainly be dead.
Jennifer doesn’t have official numbers but estimates that she and her team saved “hundreds” of people in similar missions over the course of seven months. She served our country and now that she’s home, she deserves a great job.
She is currently working as an integration and test engineer and hopes to move up within the corporate structure.
With this in mind, I was able to reveal to Jennifer that her mentor would be renowned businessman and tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn.
With Reid as her mentor, she will be able to pick the brain of one of the country’s top businessmen about professional development and getting ahead in the business world.
Reid, 45, has also played key roles in the development of a number of now-dominant companies. He was an early investor in Facebook and a founding board member at PayPal. He currently sits on the board of directors of online game company Zynga and at the Mozilla Corporation, among others.