I was a 16-year-old high school junior in May 1986 when the movie Top Gun was released. I don’t think there was a high school kid in America that summer who didn’t “feel the need for speed.” I was no different. So when the volleyball coach from the Naval Academy called that summer and asked me to come for a recruiting visit, I was all in.
Unfortunately, four years later the optometrist told me that being Mav was not in my future. At that time, pilots needed uncorrected 20/20 vision and mine was less than perfect. But I could still be Goose, right?
Those hopes were quickly dashed, too, when l I reported to Pensacola for more medical exams. My 6’ 6” frame was an advantage on the volleyball court but in an ejection seat aircraft, it meant my legs would have been separated from the knees down upon ejection. I like my legs, so no Goose either.
All roads led to the Navy
This led me to become a P-3C Orion Naval Flight Officer and I never looked back. I loved my job, my squadron mates and the Navy.
Like my fellow Veterans, I was well-trained and well-educated. It took the Navy eight years to turn me from a plebe at the Naval Academy into a Naval Officer they fully trusted with an airplane, a crew and a mission. The Navy provided leadership opportunities and responsibility at a young age and instilled in me a deep sense of duty and teamwork. So when I left the Navy, I knew I had skills that corporate America craved.
I was wrong.
Transitioning to the civilian world
I found that the private sector didn’t understand how military skills translated into civilian work. Only a handful of companies had a Veteran recruiting program.
So two Navy buddies and I set out to change all of that. We created G.I. Jobs in 2001 to help Veterans translate their skills for civilian life. We featured Veterans who found successful transitions. This inspired other Veterans and showed them pathways for them to be successful.
Today, our team at G.I. Jobs continues its service to connect the military community to civilian opportunity. Job boards, job fairs, a monthly print and digital magazine, and other resources – all free to service members, Veterans and their families.
The post-military success of well-known Veterans inspires us at G.I. Jobs.
- Air Force Veteran Gordon Logan, founder and CEO of SportClips.
- Navy Veteran Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska.
- Army Veteran Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson.
- Fred Smith, founder & CEO of Fedex.
These four Veterans (and millions more) are truly better off for their service.
Top Gun inspired me to serve my country and become a member of the elite tribe known as America’s Veterans. The sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick” hits theaters in November. I’ll be first in line to see it. Here’s hoping it has the same impact on a new generation as it did on me.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of VA.
Chris Hale is the CEO of G.I. Jobs.