Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
MyMilitaryBenefits.com
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Garrett Fitzgerald from MyMilitaryBenefits.com talks to us about everything from education to employment opportunities for veterans.

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Transcript

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:03    Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show. Today my guest is Garrett Fitzgerald. Garrett is the owner and founder of mymilitarybenefits.com and collegerecon.com.  We're going to be chatting today about the services that they offer to Veterans. So welcome to the show, Garrett.  Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:01:01    Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I developed, CollegeRecon and My Military Benefits back in 2013. I was just graduating college.  While I was in school, my plan was always to join the military in some way, whether it be through ROTC or the officer program.  My junior year, I ended up getting sick and I ended up in this whole issue and as a result, military wasn't a good pathway for me. So as I was looking to graduate and what path I wanted to go, I still was always drawn to that military service. And so I had friends at school who were Veterans and friends from high school who had gone into the service. And a lot of them had always told me that when they go in, their primary reason was to earn GI Bill benefits, go to school at no cost or little cost and start their lives that way.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:01:50     What I found was that years after high school, a lot of these men and women who are coming out, were looking to go and find educational opportunities, but they don't really have the support that they need. So we developed CollegeRecon as a resource to help them find those institutions and resource information that they need to make more informed decisions. And back then in 2013, I was 21 years old and decided that I would try this venture opportunity. Over the past seven years, we've grown our team.  We have some really skillful and experienced people that have come from some of the biggest military publishers in the country.  We have social media departments, marketing departments, sales, and IT development.  So there's partnerships, things like that that have come online over the past couple of years that have really made this quite the journey; a lot of ups and downs, but we're really excited about what we're providing the military. And obviously, My Military Benefits coming online in 2018; there's just a lot going on as we try to help Veterans with finding information in an impartial and secure environment; so that they can make those informed decisions that they need.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:02:56    Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that I know from my own military career when I was getting briefed on some of the resources that were available, things like the GI bill and VA benefits and other things like that; it was all like drinking out of a fire hose.  Everything just was thrown at me all at once. And not all of it applied to me right in that moment.  Some of it was stuff that I needed to just keep it in the back of my mind for something that could happen down the road.  It was just a lot of information, plus dealing with returning from a deployment where there was that added stress. So your mind is not exactly in the right place or state of mind at that point.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:46    So, it was very difficult for me to keep track of all of the things that were available to me.  Quite frankly, there's a lot that's available to Veterans and when you're thrown all these packets of information that could change from year to year, it's hard to keep track of all that stuff. So, that's why I wanted to have you on the show because your website, My Military Benefits, and CollegeRecon, they keep up with the changes that are going on in the different benefits that are available to Veterans and as new things come out, you guys are putting that information out there in a format that seems to me is easy to digest and keep up to date with all of that information.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:04:39    Yeah. And with for example, Taps, I've heard horror stories for the last seven years about Taps and how it can be. I'm sure certain people find value in certain areas.  I think you hit it on the head where some of the information that they're providing, might not be relevant today. So I may be looking for a VA home loan or educational opportunities, but I'm not looking to buy a house or go to school right after my service.  I'm not going to register and store that information for later. So what CollegeRecon, My Military Benefits and these brands that we've been cultivating over the last few years, really our primary goal has always been again, I'll mention that many times.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:05:19    I've already mentioned that in the past and I'll continue to mention it, but our goal is to improve outcomes. So with collegerecon or if you're going to My Military Benefits, the information and resources that we're providing, we provide that extra layer of data and reference,  content or information in and of itself that allows these Veterans, service members, spouses dependents, anyone who qualifies for benefits earned in service.  We provide them access to that helpful information to ensure that they're utilizing those benefits to the best of their abilities, they're getting the most out of what they've earned.  Like I said earlier, we have reference content about things around VA home loans and personal finance.  We're launching a new brand here actually in November, called CareerRecon. And we're doing that as a joint venture partnership between our organization and Echelon Front Overwatch, which is a C-level executive recruiting service for Special Operations Veterans.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:06:15    So we're going to come together and create something similar like CollegeRecon, where we're allowing Veterans the opportunity to access information and resources about transition into whether it be in education for college recon, employment or career recon. My Military Benefits is providing you that data and information that you can always go back to. You're not having to surf some government resource website and deal with the government ease.  You can get it in an easy to read environment where you're not being bombarded with display advertising and selling yourself as leads to all these different companies. With that trusted brand that we're building, we allow Veterans to not only find that information, but then we can even introduce them to organizations that we've vetted and feel comfortable with.  One of the ways that we've established our brand is we actually work with a partner in the line, different organizations like the American Legion, Student Veterans of America,  we're an approved tool with the Army National Guard, so their education service officers are able to use CollegeRecon

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:07:12    as an approved resource to help service members who are looking for degree programs, because really if you take a step back and look at the market over the last five to 10 years, and I'm sure you're aware of this but there's been a lot of issues with predatory recruitment practices of universities, programs that prey upon Veterans to see that those dollars in those services that they've performed. So we take the market and we try to remain as impartial as possible, but also provide universities that are looking to recruit Veterans specifically within the CollegeRecon market is we allow them the opportunity to get in front of Veterans, talk about their programs, surface their opportunities, but allow the Veteran to control that conversation and if they want to reach out to that school. So, whether our school works with us or not, whether any sort of client wants to work with us or not, we list schools, we list companies, we list all those at no cost.  Veterans can come in search and understand what programs are available, and then if they want to reach out, they can do so and they're in control of that communication up until the point where they're starting to talk to the school.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:20    Right. And that's nice because there's no pressure there. You're not being hounded by recruiters or whoever the people are, who are working for these organizations, these colleges or whatever. You're not being hounded by these people just because you put your name out on some site somewhere and now your phone doesn't stop blowing up with text messages and phone calls and emails and everything else that just tends to get annoying. So that's a great thing to have, great resource to have is all that information that you're talking about without the risk of getting bombarded with all this stuff.  Now I know there's a lot of things that are out there, in terms of benefits for Veterans

Scott DeLuzio:    00:09:11     and My Military Benefits, I know, through looking at the site before we started recording, I was telling you I stumbled across your site before we got introduced and just looking up different benefits that are available to Veterans just on my own. And I know there's a ton of stuff that's out there as far as Veteran programs. If I'm a Veteran and I know that there's stuff that's available to me, but I don't even know where to start looking, is it maybe disability benefits? Is it a home loans? Or, if I don't know what I don’t know, what is it that I could do in terms of going to your site to find that type of information?

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:10:02    Yeah, that's a great question. So, we oftentimes find, whether you're a Veteran, a service member, a spouse who may be looking for their own opportunities or help trying to help their spouse who served, we have opportunities and information that you can review at any point in your transition. So oftentimes when you're getting out, like one of the first things that you should do is understand what is your career, because in the end, everything comes down to what your career path will look like. Does that start with an education, did you enlist right out of high school? Did you get some college experience or college credit and then decide to enlist or become an officer? Whatever it looks like, if you're looking to get a master's degree, a certificate, associate's, bachelor's, whatever it might be, you need to understand what it is that you need in order to qualify

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:10:47     and start down that path that you're looking for from a career standpoint. So if you take a step back and look at it from colleges, sort of that starting foundation that you need as you, as you transition out, depending on again, on what career you're looking for. So college Recon, for example, what it can help you do is obviously understand what those benefits are on a state level, national level. You know, we find that a lot of Veterans that we've spoken to or worked with in the past have,  you know, wrongfully paid for some amount of school when they actually could have qualified for either a state or a federal benefit,  there's scholarships and tuition discounts for military, that a lot of people aren't aware of. So we provide them that access.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:11:27    In addition to like private schools, a lot of people, a traditional student who was looking to go to school, they may only choose or even decide between public schools because they can't afford the private option. For Veterans with the yellow ribbon program, again, scholarships and reduced tuition for military credit, for military experience, where you can start as a sophomore and in many cases, those opportunities and that information you can find on collegerecon, you can find that on government websites as well.  It's not like hold the secret key to that, but that is that information is so critical because we want you to get started on that pathway to career success. And if it is education as the foundation and that starting point we want to make sure that you're getting, if you don't have to pay anything out of pocket, you shouldn't pay anything out of pocket, just like a basic allowance for housing, you can get your housing paid for.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:12:12    And a lot of Veterans, they don't understand that, and that's no fault of their own.  Oftentimes, like Taps, if you’re just checking out, because it's not relevant at that time and there's just too much information during a very busy time of one's life.  Coming to these digital resources that we've created that are totally free, accessible on your phone, desktop anywhere.  You can start to digest this information, save data, things like that, so that you're starting to create that pathway to that career success. So whether it be education or you're starting looking for a job, if you're looking to buy a home, if you have a disability rating, you think you might be eligible for more, we can help with that. So we have trusted partners that we work with so that you're not just going and typing in VA disability claims clicking on the first ad

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:12:59    you see. You don't know where that information is going. Do you trust that brand? Do you trust the resource you're reading? So with collegerecon and My Military Benefits being that trusted resource, we have writers who are spouses and Veterans. A lot of people within our team have been through that process. And a lot of our PR and our partnerships, those organizations do a great job as well, but maybe don't have the digital exposure or ability to connect with such a wide audience that we do through these digital outlets. So, we have tens of thousands of people a month reading our information, signing up for tools, connecting with universities, with career recon coming online here next month, we'll have employers, staffing and recruiting agencies that are looking specifically for Veterans.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:13:44    So, really our end goal is to be the number one transition service for anyone leaving the military or transit. You may have left the military five years ago. You went to school when you're always transitioning. So now you might be transitioning into the career world and you know, what sort of jobs should I be looking for? What questions should I be asking?  Leadership training and things like that we can offer you access to those programs and everything we do is military centric. So you feel at home while you're reviewing our information, because it's not made for the general public it's made for the military.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:14:17    Right. And that's great too, because like you said, it is tailored for the military community. And some of the information, when you're going out looking for home loans or for things like that, it's different information out there specifically for Veterans in terms of the programs that are available for them that they could take advantage of and even things like disability benefits and stuff like that. That's a different world from a civilian to a Veteran and depending on what circumstances they find themselves in. So, all of that is great information to have, especially with a military centric focus.  We talked a little bit about careers and a little bit about the education, post military career, but I know there's one thing that I know you guys do cover on your site and that's personal finances.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:16     I know some military and Vets are traditionally just terrible with their finances.  You hear stories of the Private who gets his first paycheck probably ever in his life and thinks he's rich. And then he goes out and buys a new $30,000 car at 28% interest. And just stories like that are all over the place. And I don't know how many people who do those types of things, but I've seen some big-time bonehead purchases in my time in the military. And I guess my point is that there are far better ways to use that kind of money and at much lower interest rates, especially for Veterans. There are a lot of programs available to the military and Vets that many people in the military community just don't know about. Like we mentioned before, the VA home loans, retirement savings, healthcare, taxes, all these different financial topics.  There are specific things that people who are actively serving in the military, maybe who are deployed or are Veterans that they need to know about. So, what kind of information is out there for Veterans, in terms of the financial side of things?

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:16:28    Yeah. I think looking at the market today and you can go to different military publishers that are in service organizations, the VA there's plenty of information that I don't think that's necessarily the problem it's how that information is transmitted to that audience.  With our stance we've taken or we have the methodology that we want to bring people in, cultivate that community, and provide them access to resources, information that they find relevant, military centric. It's when I say relevant really it's relevant to their particular time within that transition cycle. So with personal finance, that's probably the one area that is always relevant. I mean, it's an in-service, it's relevant prior to service and after service.  What we do is by putting information out there, whether it be through newsletters tools or just content, and all of our content is optimized for search.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:17:27    So if you're ever wondering like, Hey man, I might've come across college regarding My Military Benefits.  If you search for a specific term, like yellow ribbon colleges, bestseller in colleges for Veterans, that's the sort of information that we try to show up within the search. And then when you come to our platform, by reading that information, you then find other relevant resources, articles that you can continue to review and learn more about your services and different offers and opportunities that are out there. So within personal finance, VA home loan is a huge component of that. It's one of the biggest purchases you can make. And I really look at career and education as central to that personal finance discussion, as well as we have plenty of Veterans who haven't used or utilized the benefits that they've earned to their fullest potential and ended up paying out of pocket expenses or careers where they get out of the military and end up getting a job versus going and trying to pursue a career.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:18:24    They might've thought I don't want to go to school for four years, but we'll, Hey, because of your military experience, you're able to earn 45 credits. Well, now you're starting off as a second semester sophomore, you just cut that time almost in half.  Then there are two year schools, things like that, there are so many opportunities that affect your pocketbook. And that is our central focus trying to drive everything back to your pocketbook and ensuring that you are putting yourself in the best position financially, whether it be looking to go to school, planning, careers, asking for salaries, raises, job transitioning.  Those are all super important, as well as the obvious VA home loan, disability ratings, and claims and what sort of money you're owed, but it all comes back to benefits like that.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:19:08    You know, 85% of Veterans,  we ran a poll years ago, 85% of our audience who had served, served primarily due to the benefits that they earn. So again, from personal finance to home loans, to career opportunities; but the big one is the GI bill and their ability to go to school, especially today with how expensive education is.  I do believe it all ties back, every step of the transition in some way affects your financial wellbeing today or 10 years from now. So providing them information and resources to ensure that they're making informed decisions in those areas, obviously impacts them in a lot of ways, but primarily financially. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:50    Right. And one thing too that I think some Veterans don't realize, talking about the education benefits, is that those education benefits are not just for traditional four-year colleges that you might go for an accounting degree or something along those lines. Those benefits can be applied to a trade school.  We had a Veteran on a few months ago who used it to become a yoga instructor. You can use it for all sorts of different things. So, just because you don't feel that a four year degree is the right move for you for whatever your career path is; it doesn't necessarily mean that you have no benefits available to you.  You still can use those benefits for trade schools or other types of schools that can get you those types of careers that you’re looking for.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:20:49     And that's what we always talk about, when you're starting to look for your educational opportunities, there are questions and things that you need to ask yourself to ensure that, if you come back and you're from let's say Kentucky and you want to go to the University of Kentucky because that's the brand name school, that's what you think of when you're thinking about a college, you might not be aware that within let's say you live in Louisville within 50 miles of downtown Louisville, there might be 15 private, liberal arts colleges or universities. And again, they're private, but they're just as affordable as University of Kentucky. And a lot of ways with yellow ribbon and they might have better degree programs that are aligned for what it is you're looking to do as a career.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:21:27    They may have Veteran service centers or things like that that are more helpful to whatever it is that you need as you look for the correct opportunity and certificates are a great example.  Veterans who are coming out, they have the opportunity to go and earn a certificate and get into a trade. Oftentimes in high school, I think one of the biggest issues today is that there's a stigma around going to a two year school or getting to be a plumber or a technician. When in reality, they oftentimes earn more than someone who had, let's say a four year liberal arts degree.  For Veterans, they're not in that high school mode they're adults they've had real world experiences.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:22:10    They're trying to earn money now and build a family or own a home, whatever it might be. Well, that trade route looks pretty attractive. You don't have to deal with people just don't really care about the stigma, which is great. So we do try to surface opportunities like that. We work with a culinary Institute and massage therapy organizations. So those certificate programs are incredibly valuable and it really just depends on what it is you want to study. So my advice always is don't just go to the big brand name school, because Hey, I can get in or Hey, they accepted me. That's not important. What's important is what you want to study because you know what you want to do after you graduate. And if that means a two year school, if that means a little private liberal arts college down the street that no one's heard of, that's fine, do that.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:22:56    That's what's setting you up for success. Don't be drawn to the big brand name school and oftentimes it's a bigger student population. You might not get the services and attention that you're looking for.  There's so many opportunities out there; there's thousands and thousands. We have 3000 schools in CollegeRecon in the search platform. So you can go through and discover all those universities. You'd be shocked. I'm sure if you’re in Texas, you want to look through our system, and you’ll see that there are hundreds of schools within Texas that you may never have heard of. And if you look at their Veteran service offerings, it's impressive. They do a lot for Veterans and military and even spouses and dependents of service members. They're there for those individuals. You may not get that at a big school. A lot of schools you will. But, I always just try to emphasize that there are so many opportunities out there and don't just limit yourself.  It really does come down to, you need to know what it is that you want at the end of that educational journey. So whatever that is, then find the best path for it. And that's what collegerecon can help you do.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:23:57    Yeah, absolutely. And I like what you said about some of the trade schools route that you might be able to go, and a lot of people don't really think of that, or like you said, there's some stigma associated with it, that it's maybe not as good of a job that you might get with a four-year degree, but some of these four year degrees that you end up with may not have job opportunities even available to you depending on what your degree is. So, some of the trades, plumber HVAC, or electrician, anything like that, those jobs actually are paying really well. And there's nothing wrong with going that route, especially if you had some background, doing some of that type of work while you were in the military, that's only going to help you afterwards.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:24:56    I think it's a good point that you bring up too, because we do see Veterans also, like I might've had this MOS, or I was doing this in the military; so this is what I think I need to do this going forward. If you didn't like that, or that is not what you're limited to, you're starting over. Once you transition out, if you want to go be an accountant, if you want to be a doctor, but you weren't a medic, you had no medical background, a nurse, whatever it might be, you have that opportunity. I want to make sure that when Veterans transition out, they know that they're not pigeonholed to whatever they had in a previous life or whatever they did in the military.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:25:27    You can use the information and resources and skills that you possess from your service, you can use those going forward. But again, it is almost like a clean slate. Like you have the opportunity now from a financial perspective, you can go to Harvard or you can go to a two year school, you can go to a school of $60,000 a year or $10,000.  You earned it so make sure that you make the most of it is what I always try to emphasize.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:53    Yeah. And really, there's nothing wrong with recreating yourself and coming up with a new direction for your career. Take a look at me just as an example. I went to a traditional four year college before joining the military, got an accounting degree, then joined the military as an Infantryman, which has almost zero direct correlation to any civilian jobs, unless you're like a mercenary or something. So those jobs are few and far between. I develop software now, for my professional job and run a podcast. So, you don't have to be pigeonholed into whatever it was that your MOS was.  Maybe you really enjoyed it and maybe you were an MP and you really liked the police work and you want to be a police officer.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:26:55    Well, great. You already have that background.  But maybe you did something else and it just wasn't all that interesting. It sounded great when you signed up or it was just the thing that was available to you at the time. And given your qualifications or whatever, and you went with that, but it wasn't really what you wanted to do, but now that you're out, you have the benefits available to you to go reinvent yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. So, this is a lot of great information.  I think the Veterans who are out there who are struggling with their transition, who want to make more of themselves and make more of their career than maybe what they are doing; they definitely need to go check out My Military Benefits.com, college recon, and coming soon career recon, which by the time this episode comes out, probably will be available.  I don't want to make any promises though because things happen. So, check it out any ways, I'm sure it will be coming out around the time that this episode comes out anyways. So, that'll be great. What other things do Veterans need to know about their transition, about the benefits that are available to them, about what they can find through your services?

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:28:24    Yeah. So, when you look at the transition and a lot of times it starts with Taps, so that's what sometimes I hear and I didn't go through Taps, I'll preface it with that, but oftentimes it comes across as it prohibited me from excelling in my transition and I would look at it and say, well, let's not blame Taps. Let's look at the transition as a whole. And the transition doesn't start the day you walk into Taps, it may start six months prior. If you know you're getting out, start to put a plan together, start talking to transition counselors or people in the field, people back at home who might be in a career that you're interested in and start talking to them about what their day-to-day is like.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:29:02    If you want to job shadow, there's so many Veterans, if you ask for that access to a specific opportunity, whether it be a shadow, whether it be just information about what the day-to-day looks like in a specific career, I'm sure you can find it. So as you start to put that plan together, I think too many people look at it shortsighted. So, they'll be like, I want to go again to the University of Kentucky or whatever school it might be. And I'm not thinking past that. I'm going to go to that school because that's a good school. And that's where I want to go. Well, do they have the degree that you want? Do they have the degree field? You may not know exactly what you want to study, which is totally fine.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:29:41    And a lot of people will say that's so hard. There's so many people, I think more than half the people who graduate from a university, end up doing something that is far away from what they study. I was in marketing and now we're running this whole military publishing and marketing company, but it's very different from what I studied. So I think, you can't use those things as reasons for not successfully transitioning or finding new ways to adapt. So six months prior to transition, I would start looking at what sort of opportunities are you looking for? Are you looking for a specific career? Did you not like what you did in the military? And that's fine, but find out what that passion might be and the best way to do that is network and resources.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:30:22    And we haven't talked a lot about networking, but that is such a critical part of this. And the military community is a great network.  There's tons of websites out there and publishing groups and Veteran service organizations that can help. Just the community in and of itself, there's a lot of companies looking to hire Veterans. So there's no shortage of interest in helping and assisting Veterans with the transition. You just have to know where to look and you have to look at trusted agents. We talked earlier that there are those companies out there that are in a lot of ways, preying on those benefits.  You just have to be sure that you're using information and resources that you trust. So, with that six months out, looking at those career opportunities, finding a university or a certificate program or whatever it might be, that'll allow you to start down that career path and things can change.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:31:10    It is not set in stone. In six months from transition, you might have a plan that's laid out and it looks great. And then two weeks before you’re out, something may have come up and you're looking at a new opportunity. That's fine. This is not set in stone. Don't think of it that way.  Just make sure that you make the right decisions about things; there are big decisions. Do you need to take responsibility like buying a home? That's not something you just do on a whim, you need to make sure that you have and understand what your benefits are, what you can afford.  I know COVID has thrown a lot of people into disarray about what they can afford. So take that stuff into account. I think just putting a plan together and making sure that it's not set in stone in such a way but that it is laid out that you do have different pathways.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:31:56     Find that end goal and then, what do you need to do to get there? And that sounds cliche. And everybody says that, and everybody thinks that, but you can get there much easier if you have the information and resources that you need and you're not just making decisions based on something you may have heard from Taps three months ago, or that one of your buddies said, this is what you should do, go out and find that information and research it. And that's what we do. We try to provide that impartially and easy to read and trusted.  Collegerecon, My Military Benefits, you can follow us on Social Media; you can sign up for our newsletter; you can just visit the website. There's tons of reference information and then what's nice about it is beneath that information and resources we have tools that can provide you access or introduce you to organizations and companies and Veterans service organizations that help you with whatever it is you're looking for. That'd be VA home loans, employment opportunities, education.  You just have to make sure you're working with someone that you trust.  That would be my advice.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:54    Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned, networking; networking is a great thing to do to get your foot in the door; maybe it's an industry that you're trying to get into, or trying to find out more about a college or whatever the case may be, but what are some of the challenges that some of the Veterans might face?  Maybe some of the people who are still serving there in that six month window before getting out, what are some of the challenges they might face with doing some of that networking?  Let's throw COVID out of the way there, because that's a challenge for everyone, but there might still be some other challenges with networking and what's the best way to go about doing that and getting in front of some of those people.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:33:41    Yeah. I think oftentimes people think of networking and they think, it's like high pressure, awkward situations. They think of career fairs and education fairs. And I'm sure you've been to them. I have as well.  They're tough. Oftentimes there's usually more agencies and companies there than Veterans, so it can be rather odd and uncomfortable for people. So, they're great if you find value, they're awesome. But I wouldn't rely on those established settings to network.  LinkedIn is great. I would be working LinkedIn and you don't have, as a Veteran, I think oftentimes people think, well, I'm a Veteran, I can only work with Veterans or find Veterans who are willing to help me. It's completely the opposite.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:34:26    As a Veteran, everybody for the most part wants to help you in some way, like whatever it might be, if you need it, if I don't know you and you reach out to me on LinkedIn and you say, Hey, I'm interested in entrepreneurship.  Or if I worked at an ad agency and say, Hey, I really want to go into advertising. I don't know anything about it. I'm about to get out. I know we don't know each other. I serve, this is where I'm at right now. I'm just looking for some help, like any guidance on what you would do. I have to believe that 80% of the time you're going to hear back from them, whether it be them individually or say, Hey, I know somebody who can help. Veteran service organizations are great. They have community networks, things like that.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:34:58     I think LinkedIn is such a valuable tool in that regard. And then finding information like you can find oncology kind of My Military Benefits. That's great on those social platforms.  If you have an idea of what you want to study, or I would say, I want to be a nurse, for example, you can go to LinkedIn and you just filter by Veterans served in the military and is currently a nurse you'll find thousands and thousands of people.  You may be connected through another connection.  So there's opportunities to meet those people. But I think today it's become much more digital focused. And there's just so many opportunities to network in such a way where you don't have to do it face to face

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:35:38     so even with COVID, I almost think that it is a mute point because you can do it via LinkedIn. You can do it by email, phone calls. You can go and job shadow someone.  I wouldn't limit it to what Taps talks about are these career fairs for Veterans because they are dying out for sure. I don't see them as often.  There's just so many people out there that are willing to help whether they're Veterans or not. I just think one of the key takeaways is I wouldn't just limit it to Veterans. Veterans are great at helping Veterans. I've seen it time and time again, but I'm a perfect example. I'm not a Veteran and our entire company is dedicated to helping Veterans.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:36:17    So, I wouldn't limit it to that. There's tons of people out there that are willing to help find that career field or even that industry that you're interested in. And that's the perfect part, if you find an industry, like nursing and you go talk to a few nurses or you shadow, or you start to learn more about what the day-to-day looks like, and you're like, Hey, I could never do those hours or, I don't like this part of the job.  That's great. That's not a failure, that's a success; you've found out what you don't want to do, now go find the next thing.  I think that's super important.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:36:46    Yeah. I like that you mentioned LinkedIn, it's a good tool because if you go and search for somebody who's in that field that you may want to shadow, or you want to talk to get more information from, they show you the second level, third level connections that you can then reach out to someone who's in your network who can then make that connection for you and help you out. That can help grow your network as well. And then get you to a faster decision, whether this sounds like something that is good for me or no, this actually seems like it's not a good idea for me. And let's move on to find something else. So, all that's really great information.  I love the piece of advice and everything like that. So with that, is there anything else that we could do to wrap up the segment in terms of where we can find more information. I know you briefly mentioned the websites and everything like that. Do you want to just mention those and any social media?

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:37:58    Yeah, I appreciate it. So, yeah, CollegeRecon.com, My Military Benefits.com, soon to be careerrecon.com, which should come out in November.  All those platforms they're providing you resources and tools and information that you need in order to make informed decisions and improve outcomes.  That's the most important part. So you can find us through Google search going directly to those sites. We do have social channels, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and then if you go to our websites, you can also sign up for our newsletters and we just provide you helpful information. It's weekly and monthly information on benefits, new opportunities that we've come up with through partnerships and different organizations we work with.

Garrett Fitzgerald:    00:38:36    Discounts, things like that, just helpful information that affects you personally, career-wise, educationally. And again, most importantly, it always comes back to your own personal wellbeing and personal finance. So, any of those resources, you can sign up for everything and you'll get helpful information into your inbox periodically.

Scott DeLuzip:  Wonderful. Well, Gary, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today.  The website,  My Military Benefits.com, CollegeRecon.com, careerrecon.com. They're all going to be linked up in the show notes. So if you're listening to this, you don't have to jot down any of this stuff. It's all right there in the show notes, you can go click over to that later.  We'll have all that information there. And, again, I really enjoyed the conversation. It's been a pleasure.  Thank you very much for sharing everything with us today.

Garrett Fitzgerald:  Yeah. I really appreciate the time. And, hopefully, we can help some of your listeners with some of the decisions that are upcoming.

Scott DeLuzio:  Great. Thank you again.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:39:39    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcasts.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.

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