“Where do I start?”: Finding Opportunity After the Military

From a young age, Ike Oguike knew he wanted to serve in the military. Growing up in Nigeria, the son of a military man, Ike often heard his father talk about the honor and reward of serving his country, and the camaraderie and discipline that came with it. So, when Ike immigrated to the United States in 2015 in search of greater opportunity, it wasn’t long before he decided to leave his job as an accountant and enlist in the military.  

“I wanted to have a feel of service and the pride of a uniform personnel,” Ike said, “but I also wanted to continue my education.”

Ike already had a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and he joined the Army as an E-4 Specialist. During the four years he served at Fort Hood in Texas, Ike moved up the ranks from an alpha logistics specialist, to logistics team lead, logistics sergeant and logistics supervisor. He also completed his Master’s degree in Economics.

When his four-year term ended, Ike was faced with what he calls one of the biggest challenges a human can face: what to do next? He didn’t know where to start: “Where do I go. Who do I need to talk to. How do I go about it?”  

These are the questions facing so many service members as they prepare to transition back to civilian life. Young veterans, in particular, experience the worst transitional outcomes of any veteran subpopulation. Junior enlisted are the least likely segment to have a job lined up before transition. Only 21% do. (1) Additionally, only 23% of veterans from the junior-enlisted ranks report having a secure financial situation. (2)

The Schultz Family Foundation supports organizations, like the United Service Organizations (USO),who work to improve the transition and employment outcomes for service members. USO, the nation's leading military charitable organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. Ike encountered USO through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides information, resources, and tools to service members. He was then connected to USO Transition Specialist, Audrey Charlson.  According to Ike, Charlson was a steadfast support, giving him structure and helping him with everything from his resume to connecting him with mentors.  

“The military journey is different for every service member. At the USO, we understand that, and we are by their side to provide personalized support and career and professional services to help them achieve their goals,” said Lisa Elswick, USO Vice President of Transition Programs. “We serve as a critical bridge between military and civilian life and together with partners, like the Schultz Family Foundation, we are able to help more military members and their families confidently and successfully navigate the path that is right for them.”  

Ultimately Ike received mentorship through the Hiring Our Heroes program, a workforce development program that places highly skilled and educated transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and military caregivers with employers committed to hiring them. Now working in the finance department of Philips 66, and living in Killeen, Texas with his wife and children, Ike is also pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration in Logistics and Supply Chain Management through the University of Virginia.  

“Everything I am doing today, it's been because of USO,” he says. “For me, USO gave me the roadmap to my future... (and) the courage and boldness to do well in the civilian sector”.

Photo: Ike with his USO Transition Specialist, Audrey Charlson

Sources

(1) “The transition to post-military employment", Pew Research Center - Kim Parker, Ruth Igielnik, Amanda Barroso, Anthony Cillufo. September, 2019

(2) “The Veterans Metrics Initiative” The Henry M. Jackson Foundation’s (TVMI) study in partnership with Penn State University.

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“Where do I start?”: Finding Opportunity After the Military

From a young age, Ike Oguike knew he wanted to serve in the military. Growing up in Nigeria, the son of a military man, Ike often heard his father talk about the honor and reward of serving his country, and the camaraderie and discipline that came with it. So, when Ike immigrated to the United States in 2015 in search of greater opportunity, it wasn’t long before he decided to leave his job as an accountant and enlist in the military.  

“I wanted to have a feel of service and the pride of a uniform personnel,” Ike said, “but I also wanted to continue my education.”

Ike already had a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and he joined the Army as an E-4 Specialist. During the four years he served at Fort Hood in Texas, Ike moved up the ranks from an alpha logistics specialist, to logistics team lead, logistics sergeant and logistics supervisor. He also completed his Master’s degree in Economics.

When his four-year term ended, Ike was faced with what he calls one of the biggest challenges a human can face: what to do next? He didn’t know where to start: “Where do I go. Who do I need to talk to. How do I go about it?”  

These are the questions facing so many service members as they prepare to transition back to civilian life. Young veterans, in particular, experience the worst transitional outcomes of any veteran subpopulation. Junior enlisted are the least likely segment to have a job lined up before transition. Only 21% do. (1) Additionally, only 23% of veterans from the junior-enlisted ranks report having a secure financial situation. (2)

The Schultz Family Foundation supports organizations, like the United Service Organizations (USO),who work to improve the transition and employment outcomes for service members. USO, the nation's leading military charitable organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. Ike encountered USO through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides information, resources, and tools to service members. He was then connected to USO Transition Specialist, Audrey Charlson.  According to Ike, Charlson was a steadfast support, giving him structure and helping him with everything from his resume to connecting him with mentors.  

“The military journey is different for every service member. At the USO, we understand that, and we are by their side to provide personalized support and career and professional services to help them achieve their goals,” said Lisa Elswick, USO Vice President of Transition Programs. “We serve as a critical bridge between military and civilian life and together with partners, like the Schultz Family Foundation, we are able to help more military members and their families confidently and successfully navigate the path that is right for them.”  

Ultimately Ike received mentorship through the Hiring Our Heroes program, a workforce development program that places highly skilled and educated transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and military caregivers with employers committed to hiring them. Now working in the finance department of Philips 66, and living in Killeen, Texas with his wife and children, Ike is also pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration in Logistics and Supply Chain Management through the University of Virginia.  

“Everything I am doing today, it's been because of USO,” he says. “For me, USO gave me the roadmap to my future... (and) the courage and boldness to do well in the civilian sector”.

Photo: Ike with his USO Transition Specialist, Audrey Charlson

Sources

(1) “The transition to post-military employment", Pew Research Center - Kim Parker, Ruth Igielnik, Amanda Barroso, Anthony Cillufo. September, 2019

(2) “The Veterans Metrics Initiative” The Henry M. Jackson Foundation’s (TVMI) study in partnership with Penn State University.

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