PHOENIX — They are the men and women who served our country. And just about half a million veterans live right here in Arizona.
We are honoring those who serve by sharing their stories of service, dedication, hope and perseverance. Making the move back to civilian life from the structure of the military can be tough, but a valley veteran says one word can help solve a lot of problems.
That is the one thing Brian Ishmael recommends every veteran seek out. He should know.
Brian is the vice president of the office of military and veteran's affairs and strategic government partnerships at the university of phoenix. He was working at the Arizona Biltmore when September 11th happened.
“I had just completed school and said - you know what, now is the time.” Brian joined the Army and served two tours of duty in Iraq during the global war on terrorism. Returning home, and to civilian life, he faced the same challenges many veterans do.
“I was really ready to just get out, and so a lot of the tools that were there and set-up for me by the Army, I kinda just checked a box, which was not a good idea. So, I checked the box, I got out, I got home, and I said now what?”
That is when Brian began to seek out mentors to help him make the transition from the military to the corporate world.
“Many of them hadn't served in the military, but that was good. That was exactly what I needed. I needed someone to pull me out of that environment and teach me and mentor me to be the best that I can be in the civilian kind of corporate setting.”
Part of Brian's push to be the best is to help honor the sacrifices of other veterans and he does that by serving with Honoring America's Veterans - a non-profit group that puts on the annual Phoenix Veterans Day parade, and other events to show support and recognize vets for their service in the military and the community. “There are so many groups there that are just so focused on making sure that veterans have what they need regardless of what that is and without any judgment. I just think this is a great place to be a veteran.”
Even with so many support groups around, there is one piece of advice Brian Ishmael wants every veteran to remember: “Get set up with a mentor – and even if that's not – you're looking for a career or something like that, or maybe you're going through a struggle that you are just having a hard time dealing with getting connected with another veteran to help you through that is probably the best thing that you could possibly do.”