June 2024 - Mentorship Success Story

Hailey Brindamour

There’s a universal truth we all learn in childhood: Sometimes it takes a few tries to get things right. It’s one of those lessons that greets us at every stage of life, from mastering tying our shoelaces to finding the right career. When making a major life transition like retiring from the military, it helps to maintain that persistence and patience until you settle into a path that feels right for you and your family. One of the best things you can do as a transitioning service member is find a guide who can help you evaluate your options and course-correct if things go awry.

A couple months into his ACP mentorship, U.S. Army First Sergeant Patric O’Keefe thought he’d checked all the boxes: He’d recently retired after 20 years in Special Forces, with a dozen deployments under his belt, and he had a new job that looked great on paper.

With two decades of high-tempo operations behind him, Patric and his family craved a more sustainable work-life balance. He quickly realized that the pace of his new start-up gig wasn’t providing it. Unhappy with constant work trips and absences from home, Patric and his ACP Mentor, Expert Technologist Jim Champion of American Water, dug into Patric’s underlying values and motivations so they could collaborate on the next move.

“We took a holistic view,” says Jim of his conversations with Patric. Their approach was “not just a job search” but covered “family, friends, finances, goals, and the loss of the comradery of military life.”

Jim advised Patric to focus on steadily completing his Bachelor’s Degree, one class at a time, as he restarted the job search. Patric appreciated this measured approach, saying, “I can slowly work towards a degree while holding down a job, [which] will allow me to increase my knowledge in fields that I'm passionate about and build out a network of people in fields that I'm interested in.”

Pacing himself paid off for Patric, who recently accepted a new position with a much more manageable workload. “[This job] is a much better fit for me and the family, and so far I'm really happy there,” says Patric. “[Jim] has been instrumental in my transition, helping me navigate the civilian work force and understand how to maintain my values and excel in my job. I'm really thankful to him for everything he's done for me.”

Reflecting on their success so far, Jim highlights how crucial it was for him to be open and honest with Patric. “I shared my vulnerabilities and mistakes that I made in my life [with Patric],” says Jim. “I let [him] know when we are talking, we are ‘in Vegas’ – what is said in Vegas stays in Vegas.” By creating a framework of mutual trust, the ACP mentorship program allows Veterans to formulate a long term career plan that accounts for their unique personal circumstances. 

Whether you’re overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps or just need a guide for your job search, applying for an ACP Mentor (Active Duty military spouses apply here) means you won’t face the future alone. Anyone interested in mentoring and supporting our military and Veteran community can sign up here to get connected with ACP and be the difference!