When someone is a member of an elite special operations group, he may very well think that he can walk on water. Yet, at some point, whether after only six years or 26 years, the day will come when an operator will have to exit the military.
This transition can be challenging mentally, physically, and financially. Operators leave the military for a variety of reasons: Some are ready to get out after an enlistment; some stay until retirement; others have to leave earlier than desired; and there are those who seem to stay in because they don’t have a solid plan for what to do once they get out.
Regardless of someone’s reasons for leaving the Special Operations community, if they don’t have a plan or can’t land the right job, there’s a decent chance that they will fall right on their face and regret leaving the military.
Thankfully, there is an institution in place that specifically assists Special Operations warriors with their transition into the civilian world. This institution is called the Honor Foundation.
The Honor Foundation is a comprehensive program that provides operators with the tools, skills, and mindset required to excel in the civilian industry. The Honor Foundation has a large network of industry professionals, professors, and subject matter experts. This network is designed to expose operators to different career options and identify a perfect fit for each and every person.
The Honor Foundation isn’t for everyone. Just because someone is a special operator, doesn’t guarantee them a spot at the Honor Foundation. The Foundation only takes the best of the best, those with a track record of exemplary performance, leadership, and a strong will to excel and dominate in the civilian domain.
The Honor Foundation program is broken down into eight sections:
1) Application — The program is designed for those that will be transitioning out of the military within 12-15 months. There are no education requirements, but as stated, the program is looking for individuals with the “right stuff.”
2) Selection –The selection board consists of executives and leaders from the Special Operations community. The selection process is in-depth, seeking out candidates with strong leadership skills, exemplary service, and accountability.
3) Admission — SOF operators are selected and will begin their 15-week, 120-hour program.
4) Assessment –Those accepted into the program, known as “Fellows,” begin by taking a plethora of tests created by the Honor Foundation. For example, one such test is a Transition Readiness Assessment. These assessments ensure that each Fellow’s goals and desires are well understood and met throughout the duration of the program.
5) Phase 1 “You” — Fellows learn how to talk about themselves. Presenting themselves in a professional manner, learning how to tactfully and eloquently discuss their military careers and experiences. Coaches and mentors assist Fellows in this process.
6) Phase 2 “Your Gear” — Fellows learn how to translate their professional military background onto a resume, a LinkedIn profile, and other social media. They learn how to present their experiences and qualifications in an interview and highlight how their military background makes them strong candidates for the civilian workforce. Phase 2 ends with a practice interview.
7) Phase 3 “Your Workup” — This phase is a culmination of what was learned in Phases 1 and 2. Fellows are given the opportunity to research and gain more information on different industries and professional roles. In addition, they learn about the path of entrepreneurship. Fellows travel to different companies, allowing them to observe the work culture, structure, and overall environment. At the end of Phase 3, Fellows have completed the course and graduate from the Honor Foundation.
8) Network — After Fellows have graduated, they are still very much a part of the Honor Foundation and remain lifetime members. The Honor Foundation has an extensive network spanning industry executives, professors, coaches, mentors, consultants, and entrepreneurs. This network is an invaluable resource for graduates of the Foundation.
Personally, I know several people who participated and graduated from the Honor Foundation’s program. There is no question that their lives were positively impacted and that their current success, accomplishments, satisfaction, and financial security can be greatly attributed to the Honor Foundation.
This article was originally published in August 2020. It has been edited for republication.