“Networking has been my #1 key to success post-military. I’m not a super social person but leveraging my network has been the #1 thing that I’ve done to help me out.”
– Clay Othic
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Transcript & Time Stamps:
Today is Episode #146 with Clay Othic.
Today’s episode is a resource episode about the Three Rangers Foundation which is a non-profit organization that helps connect veterans with opportunities that will empower them and lead to lifelong success. In this episode we talk about the Three Rangers Foundation, networking, successes, and failures. At www.beyondtheuniform.io, you’ll find information about signing up for our mailing list which is my way of getting information out to veterans. As always, if you haven’t had the chance to review this podcast on iTunes, please do. It really helps me get this valuable information out to as many veterans as possible. With that, let’s dive in.
Joining me today from Portland, Oregon is Clay Othic. Clay is the Director of Outreach and Special Activities at Three Rangers Foundation which is a non-profit that works to provide deserving veterans with opportunities that will empower them to achieve lifelong success. He served in the US Army in Special Operations for over 13 years. He also owns F3 Pursuits which provides consulting and training in the law enforcement community.
How would you describe the Three Rangers Foundation and what you do there?
Our mission statement is to empower veterans to achieve a life of success. We’re not a great, big organization. We’re more of a boutique organization. We’re a hand up rather than hand out organization. We assist veterans of all branches. We match veterans and mentors together to make connections and provide assistance. We’re not the type of organization that hands out backpacks and t-shirts. We want to focus on actually making things happen for veterans in their lives.
That’s great. One of the themes that has come up time and time again in these interviews is how important networking can be. It seems like as an organization, you are helping veterans make those connections.
That’s exactly it. Networking has been my #1 key to success post-active duty. I’m not a super social person but leveraging my network has been the #1 thing that I’ve done to help me out.
Do you have any advice about how veterans can approach networking in a way that seems genuine and authentic?
For me, it helped to just sit down with a notepad and document my contacts and friends. For guys in the Special Operations community, social media was really frowned upon during our time in the military. But when you’re getting ready to get out it helps to start networking through social media. The Army does a great job of bringing people in and training them on what they need to do. But they don’t do such a good job of preparing people when they’re about to get out. I wish I had prepared for my transition a bit earlier. When people are about a year out, they should be starting to put themselves out there and meet different people in the community.
Have you seen any common trends that veterans face during their transition?
At Three Rangers Foundation, we don’t have a massive amount of veterans that come through. We’re fairly selective about the veterans that we are to assist through our program. Some of the struggles I’ve seen veterans face is the failure to prepare for their transition while they’re still on active duty. Or, just not knowing how to accomplish a goal and not being sure how to reach out. They then have to reinvent the wheel when the support was available the whole time.
What preparation should an active duty member take to prepare for their transition?
A big one is VA registration and thinking about any claims that you might by putting in for. You can file them before you even get out of the military. Compile your medical records. This will help you out considerably. It will put your mind at ease reaching out the VA and other agencies to talk about career options before you even get out. The process for government jobs can be up to a year so getting a head start is really helpful.
What are some misconceptions military members can have about what life will be like once they get out?
When I got off active duty following my first enlistment, I thought for sure people would be falling all over me trying to give me a job. I thought for sure I would have a lot of freedom. As it turned out, it was a struggle just to make sure I was surviving. You go from the military where you have a huge support system to not having any of that on the civilian side. In the civilian side, things also go at a bit of a slower pace. So when you’re relying on other people to make things happen for you and that’s not really happening, it can be very frustrating.
How can people get involved with Three Rangers Foundation?
There are several ways you can get involved whether that’s being a mentor, donor, or participant. If someone is interested in applying to the program and wanting assistance from Three Rangers Foundation, he or she should go to our website or our Facebook page and reach out to us. We’ll get back with them and start the process from there. For someone that wants the volunteer, the process is the same. Just reach out to us and we can go from there.
How would you describe the work that you do as the Director of Special Projects?
I started out in creating the foundation with John Collett. I was the first Executive Director. But this role was too demanding of my time at that time so we searched for an Executive Director to replace me and that is Larry Moores. But I still wanted to be connected, just in a different capacity. All of us at Three Rangers Foundation have full time jobs and our role in the foundation is in a volunteer capacity. So day-to-day for me is working during the day and fitting in Three Rangers work when I can. The good thing is, my full time job is helping veterans so it’s a good fit. We created the Director of Outreach and Special Projects position so that I could still be very involved. All of us at the foundation wear many different hats. Literally every day, I am deeply involved with the organization whether that is mentoring a veteran or working on preparing for an event.
Can you describe a little bit more about your organization F3 Pursuits?
Its’ start was based out of a failure. I was in the Army in the 90’s. I did an enlistment with the Army and then got out. There was a massive government hiring program in 1996 when 100,000 law enforcement officers were hired across the nation. I applied for the program and ended up as a federal agent for eight years. Fast forward to 2004 and we have wars in Afghanistan and Iraq going on. I decided I still had a little bit more in me so I resigned my government position and went back into the military. I anticipated fulfilling my enlistment and then going back to being a federal agent.
About a year before I wanted to get out, I submitted my paperwork. A month before I was supposed to get out, sequestration went into effect. That meant that the government was not going to hire for any new positions. So I went from thinking I was going to go right back to my government job to not knowing what I was going to do. It made me think about how I could support myself and my wife. I had a lot of support from friends and colleagues around the idea of starting a business. So I started F3 Pursuits, a company that trains law enforcement personnel. So, this was all based out of a failure I was able to make it work due to my network of family and friends.
I really appreciate you mentioning that. It’s been brought up many times throughout these interviews that oftentimes opportunity can be born out of failure.
I thought that I would go back into the government once the budget was passed. But I found that I really enjoyed the freedom that having my own company afforded me. There was a lot of positives that came out of it.
Do you have any resources you would recommend for transitioning veterans?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The #1 thing I would say is to make a personal mission to seek out and find other veterans in your local area. They say that the two worst things you can do to a warrior is go to war without them and forget them. Don’t forget other veterans that are out there. Many are elderly, disabled, or homebound. This time of year especially, you can identify veterans in your local area and go pay them a visit.