By Eric Dehm
WASHINGTON — U.S. Marine Corps Captain Brian Stann found himself at a crossroads.
The first years of his military career were impressive, to say the least. After graduating with an economics degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was also a middle linebacker for the football team, Stann deployed twice to Iraq, where he earned a Silver Star.
He also had something no other Marine could claim — a championship belt in professional mixed martial arts (MMA).
Brian “All-American” Stann, standing at 6’1″ and 205 lbs, racked up 12 wins and 6 losses, and earned the 2008 World Extreme Cage-Fighting Light Heavyweight Championship title.
Two months after claiming the WEC title, Stann decided to transition from the Corps to civilian life. After leaving the Marines, Stann made it a priority to maintain a full-time job in between gigs.
“I never trusted fighting to pay all my bills,” Stann told CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets.
“I took a position in business development with a publicly traded healthcare IT company and that was difficult. I was in their business development section where everyone had a Harvard MBA or Wharton MBA. I came from a very different background and I was having a very difficult time bringing value every day, which is what keeps you employed.”
Stann found himself translating his experience as a combat veteran to a civilian workplace.
“I needed to humanize myself in their eyes,” Stann said. “To them, I’m a former infantry officer, who just went on two combat deployments, and who fistfights in a cage on the weekend. So needless to say, I’m rather intimidating and I’m walking into the office a couple times a month with fresh stitches on my face because I’m training for UFC bouts.
While Stann’s story is unique, many veterans deal with this same sort of disconnection when transitioning to civilian life.
“It was on me to take the initiative,” Stann said. “It was on me to shake hands, smile, let them in a little bit and ask questions and over time I was able to show my value.”
Stann now works to address similar issues on a larger scale as the CEO of Hire Heroes USA, an organization that prepares veterans for the civilian workforce.
“We help them [veterans] understand what they’ve done, what are their skills, what are they good at and experienced in and explain that in a language any employer can understand.”
Through free services like resume writing, mock interviews, and networking events, Hire Heroes USA gives veterans an opportunity to thrive in their next career.
In the world of job-seeking, as in the world of fighting, position is everything. When one puts themselves in a good position, good things will happen. Just ask Brian Stann.