Adam Gonzales has firsthand experience with the challenges that come with transitioning back to civilian life.
An Army infantryman from 2000-04, Gonzales became a private military contractor after leaving the service. In 2012, he decided “enough was enough,” but it hit him that “the only network that I really have in this world is overseas in the wars.”
“When you’re at home and you come back from the wars, you’re trying to figure out what am I going to do now, what’s the next step, and your entire connection and network base is overseas, it kind of hits you pretty hard,” Gonzales said. “It turned into, for me, a pretty big low in my life.”
After a stint at a Chicago-based electrical company — “ I remember times before work sitting in my truck and I’m just in tears because I can’t figure out how I went from being a professional in the private military space with all this responsibility to going even lower than an apprentice” — Gonzales went to work for a small security company in Texas that specialized in hostage rescues. His success there earned him a promotion to director of operations, which gave him a chance to employ friends from his time as a private military contractor.
“It gave me a lot of personal satisfaction in that I knew how hard that transition is, so if I could make it easier for even just a few of my friends, I could go to sleep at night a happy man,” he said.
But there weren’t many positions to fill, and none of them were full-time. So Gonzales and his wife, Susan — herself a former Army intelligence officer and Afghanistan veteran with a background in search engine optimization, internet marketing and data analytics — came up with a plan.
“We put our heads together and we said, how do we help all the veterans out there transition home, at least maybe transition into jobs here in America or overseas in the private military sector that utilize their skills of combat veterans or combat arms or special forces?” Gonzales said.
The result is Silent Professionals, a company and online job board which helps veterans find employment opportunities in the defense and private security industry. Gonzales said the company has helped over 1,200 veterans find work since going live in October 2017.
Gonzales said Silent Professionals works closely with employers to gather as much information on the job as possible, which helps identify the right candidates for the right jobs.
Job seekers fill out a standard indoctrination form and submit their DD-214 and resume, and specific questionnaires are created for each job. If the candidate meets all the needs of the employer, then the employer receives a ranked and segmented report.
“We get feedback from the candidates, where the candidates will say, ‘Well, I’ve applied for this job in the past through a different company and I got rejected directly from the employer. Yet ,you guys were able to get me into this job,’” Gonzales said. “It shows how strong our process is, how strong our relationship is.”