After 28 years in the United States Coast Guard, the time had come to retire, get out and get a job; everything would be smooth and easy. However, life after the military was not the transition it seemed like it would be. Like most others who have started a new chapter in their life, Gene Rochon was no different. He explained “It was very difficult, I had a feeling like I didn’t fit in, and I didn’t know where I belonged. There is no identity, no camaraderie, no structure, and no clear plans.”
For Gene, opportunities for a better transition became a reality when he became connected with Combat Veterans to Careers. For Gene, they gave him, as he said, “a niche into the community, and camaraderie and fellowship with other veterans, something that I had been missing.” However, the impact Combat Veterans to Careers had on him reached farther past the kinship, they provided Gene with a track to be successful outside of the military: Gene now runs All American Pro Exterior Cleaning, his own business
Unique to Combat Veterans to Careers is the belief they have in Veterans, that they are capable of anything, and with that belief, they provide the tools and education necessary to start taking the next steps in this chapter of the Veterans’ lives. Gene admits that prior to CVC, he knew nothing about running a business, and in the job world today, it seems like anything short of having at least a college degree and some good connections, you don’t have much of a chance for success, especially in the business world. Luckily, CVC was able to offer both: they sent him to Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (http://www.ebvfoundation.org). EBV works to offer training in entrepreneurship and small business management to veterans wounded while serving or supporting combat operation in Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re committed to enabling veterans to take their first steps into successful entrepreneurship, through a variety of unique programs to develop themselves and their abilities. This is where he was able to start his own network, and map out his own directions to a successful future.
Gene said, “Before leaving for EBV, I knew I wanted to be able to establish a network of other veterans that were going through the same life transitions as I was. I also really wanted to learn how to set up and establish a small business successfully, but I was nervous that I might struggle in a classroom environment, that I wouldn’t be able to understand it. It was information overload, but it gave me the necessary basic tools to get started and understand business ownership, and be successful. It was truly a great experience.”
Since completing EBV, Gene has applied a lot of that information that was gained, such as how to price and the value of customer service, to his everyday business operations. Additionally, Gene was able to translate some of the values from his military experience to work in conjunction with his newly learned business education and training. He commented that “In the military, hard work, dedication, and personal pride were instilled in us very early on, and bringing those values to my business is, what I think, makes All American Pro Exterior Cleaning different.”
As with any new businessman, learning how to grow your business can be difficult, and actually making it grow can be even frustrating and requires a lot of patience. Gene has even admitted that there are times when he’s not sure when his next job will be or when he’ll set up a meeting with his next client, but understands that it’s all part of the process. Combat Veterans to Careers has helped ease this process by providing financial support, connecting All American with other veterans, and helping create a start-up network. In the last year, All American Pro Exterior Cleaning has grown tenfold, and everyday is making its mark on its community.
Reflecting back, Gene has nothing but great memories to share. He’s said, “It’s a huge sense of accomplishment and pride, to know your name is attached to everything, and it’s a heart warming compliment when customers appreciate your hard work. It’s rewarding to be able to see my accomplishments, satisfy my customers, provide a good service to the community, and help other veterans with their transition process. I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for CVC and the other Veterans that are apart of CVC, and the community that CVC serves, for helping my business possible and successful.”