It’s not often enough that civilians get to pay back the nation’s men and women in uniform for their military service, but when they do, it can change a soldier’s life. Just ask Army Capt. Dan Trusilo.
When the West Point graduate and veteran of the war in Iraq ended his tour in 2010, he wasn't sure how he would go about re-entering civilian life. But when Trusilo hooked up with a program that allows veterans like him to pick the brains of America's top boardroom bosses, he began to figure out a path to success.
“It was tough. I had a hard time,” Trusilo, who earned a double major at Tufts University, told FoxNews.com. “It’s hard to feel comfortable when you come back.”
Trulijo spent much of the last year in a program run by American Corporate Partners, an organization founded in 2008 with the goal of helping veterans make successful transitions from the service to the workforce. Since its inception, ACP has helped thousands of U.S. veterans get mentoring,and networking help from senior executives at such Fortune 500 companies as MetLife, Goldman Sachs, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox (the parent company of FoxNews.com.).
“I wanted to see if I could give back,” Sid Goodfriend, the former financial services executive who founded ACP, told FoxNews.com. “I am very lucky. I was able to retire in my mid-40s and I think it was because I had mentors in my life who helped me make the right decisions throughout the span of my career.”
Goodfriend, whose father served in the military, said he started ACP because it was the best way to share his talents and advice with those who put their lives at risk for fellow Americans.
“This is just something I wanted to do to help,” he said. “Over 3,000 military members have said that their lives have been completely changed.”
Trusilo was one of those soldiers whose life was changed.
While he was completing graduate studies at Tufts in Medford, Mass., he was mentored by Jay Zmrhal, an executive at appliance company Whirlpool in Michigan. They met over Skype on a regular basis to plan the soldier’s future endeavors. Zmrhal helped Trusilo develop a resume and burnish his interviewing skills.
The executive also helped him in his bid for a Fulbright Fellowship, editing his essays and even conducting mock interviews so Trusilo would be prepared when he went before State Department officials.
Trusilo was awarded the fellowship and will soon head to Nepal, where he will be assisting in disaster risk reduction – the field in which he hopes to make his career.
“Jay helped me out a lot,” Trusilo said, “He made sure I was able to translate my military skills to civilian work.
“He’s a busy man with a family, but he took the time to work with me," he continued. "You feel the appreciation. I know it was his way of thanking me for my service. But I’m also grateful to him.”
The mentoring program helps service members from all walks of life, including recent retirees looking to take the plunge into a competitive public job market.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jerry Doherty retired in July, after serving 30 years in California's Bay Area. Like many career service members, Doherty was not sure how to go about starting a second career.
“I knew that I was going to be challenged when I planned for the next step,” he told FoxNews.com. “When I heard of the mentoring program, I knew that it was just the type of thing I needed, and it has helped me figure out my second act.”
Because of his technical and telecommunications background with the Coast Guard, Doherty was paired up with Lowell Hardy, a top–level engineer with Verizon Wireless.
“It was just a wealth of information that he provided me,” Doherty said. “I started off with this level of expectation that veterans don’t fit in very well in the workforce. Lowell dispelled that notion very quickly. He showed me that every employer needs a worker that can be instinctive under pressure and that what service member are bred to do.”