Thought Leadership

Veteran Viewpoint: Transitioning and Support of Veterans


November 13, 2019

We sat down with James Wilson, Vice President of Growth, MVH and former U.S. Navy YN1(SW/AW), E-6 to gather his thoughts on transitioning into civilian life and our work in the Veteran space.

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about transitioning to a civilian workplace?

The biggest surprise I faced when I entered the civilian workforce was adjusting to organizations that had a much more limited sense of shared mission and culture among the workforce. While on active duty it was very easy to relate with other sailors and servicemembers. We each understood why we had volunteered, what our daily efforts meant to the command, the service, and the country. In the civilian workforce leaders tend to overlook the benefits that a shared mission and organizational culture can provide to the company’s business goals.

Q. Do you have any advice for Veterans transitioning into civilian life?

My first recommendation would be to seek out a mentor to help them understand the transition and navigate civilian life. A mentor can help them understand the nuances of the civilian workforce, how best to utilize the skills they developed on active duty and offer guidance to avoid pitfalls that others have found before them.

Second, I’d recommend they approach the transition as a learning opportunity. Civilian life and workforces don’t have a boot camp or Officer Candidate School to establish baseline understanding and capability, therefore every service member transitioning must learn as they go. If they focus on learning, vice their lack of experience in the workforce, the experience can be exceptionally rewarding.

Finally, they should stay true to the core values they developed in the military. Honor, Courage, Commitment – these hold true while on active duty, but also can set the foundation for a successful civilian career.

Q. What kinds of work does Cognosante do in support of Veterans? Which project is your favorite?

My favorite project is the Community Care Referral and Authorization (CCRA) deployment. The opportunity to assist the Department of Veterans Affairs in referring Veterans to the community for medical care is exciting. Any small effort we can provide to make the lives of Veterans and their families better is rewarding.

Q. How does Cognosante recognize the value former military service members bring to the table?

Cognosante’s focus on Veteran hiring and commitment to Veteran-focused charities speaks volumes to the value the company puts on Veteran experiences and service. We also incorporate Veterans into each area of our business; bringing their expertise and experience to bear on challenges and improve the solutions we develop.

Q. What does Veterans Day mean to you?

I always think back to the origin of the holiday, the Armistice of WWI, and the sacrifice and hardships faced by our servicemembers. The holiday affords the opportunity, along with Memorial Day, to take stock of how lucky we are as a country and to thank those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. Even as a Veteran, I know there are soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines – along with their families – that have sacrificed far more for our country than I did. They each deserve our thanks and admiration.