By United States Special Operations veteran, retired Army Sgt. Major Major Erick Miyares
This is my journey:
In June 1991, during high school, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a Marine Infantry Rifleman.
I knew I wanted to be a Marine, and it was time to leave Hialeah, Florida. I found comfort in what the Marine Corps stood for - honor, courage, and commitment. These three simple but powerful words resonated with me. On day one of boot camp, as I stood on top of yellow shoe prints painted on the ground, I heard, and for the next three months, chanted every day the phrase “One Heart, One Blood, One Soul." These core values and the chant would guide me for the next 29-plus years of my military service.
In 1997, I transferred to the United States Army, where I was fortunate to spend the next 24 years within the special operations community. A family of other special operations and military intelligence professionals surrounded me every day. Together, we traveled the world to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and multiple global contingency operations in a tempo that seemed to never slow down.
I can humbly say that I worked with the best of the best. One thing was consistent from the Marine Corps to special operations – the mission, the purpose, the culture, and highly dedicated professionals.
Time to transition… to “retire” from the military. This would become possibly one of my, and now my family’s, most challenging missions ever. I was retiring as a sergeant major; however, I felt like day one entering the military as a private. I spent many hours, days, and long nights planning out our next “mission,” but, this time, I could ask my spouse for her input. More importantly, though, was asking what she needed and wanted from the next phase of our lives.
She had endured and lived with 18 years of unknowns and uncertainties filled with; “maybe,” “I can’t promise,” “it depends,” or worst, “it’s my job.” Our future plans centered around questions such as: where should I work? Where should we live? What careers do we want next? Where should our son go to school? What kind of lifestyle do we want? How much money will we need? Lastly, how and when do we start fixing 29 years of bangs and bruises from military service?
My transition process would be simpler than most as I was coming from the special operations community, which afforded my family and me multiple resources to assist in the transition. However, no matter where you come from in the military, it is still the military – and nothing is perfect, nor operates at the speed of business. Luckily, I came from a network of leaders, mentors, and friends that were always willing to assist. Still, you needed to know what sort of help you required.
Through the DoD SkillBridge Program that matches civilian opportunities to your job training and work experience at the end of your military duty, I was fortunate to participate in an incredible four-month fellowship with the Military, Intelligence, and Operations Support (MIOS) Strategic Business Unit of Chenega Corporation.
From day one, the MIOS DNA was that of the world I was preparing to transition from. An assortment of professionals dedicated to their work – their mission. The culture and values were what I (we) felt comfortable with and wanted for the next phase of our lives. This time, my spouse would be brought into the "family," making the decision and transition purposeful.
I knew very little about the Chenega Corporation when I applied, but weeks later I received two amazing books about the history and stories of the People of Chenega, Alaska. History, culture, mission, and purpose are vital to a military professional. I quickly felt the depth and impact of the Chenega people – “We are the land; We are the sea.”
My new mission is now to assist in the preservation of their subsistence traditions and way of life and continue to serve those that serve this nation through Chenega MIOS. I am truly honored and proud to be part of the Ing’im Atca family.
My recommendation to those making their transition is to find a new mission and make that your motivation. I found my new mission with MIOS, and that is what has helped my transition, a focal point for my efforts. I also suggest looking through the opportunities on the SkillBridge website. Any rank, enlisted, or officer may apply for SkillBridge, and it allows you to use up to your last 180 days of Service to train and learn with an industry partner.
This allows for a smoother transition into civilian life, rather than just getting thrown into a new lifestyle. If you are looking to join the Relentlessly Ready Chenega MIOS team, go here to browse opportunities.