Nathan Huret • Apr 25, 2022

HKY4Vets – Our 6th Anniversary

The 3-hour car ride home from Fort Bragg (April 28, 2016) was filled with many questions.

Yet, the car ride also had this unique energy to it – possibilities swirling of what could come or ways to harness what we had just experienced talking with transitioning service members and spouses at the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair on post.

It is true a small candle of inspiration was lit in us all that day – one that has only grown and sustained over these 6 years.

At that exact moment we (Lindsay Keisler, Danny Hearn and myself) had no grand designs to establish a concerted effort like HKY4Vets – that truly only came about as we began to educate ourselves. Talking with existing non-profits, transition assistance programs, resource providers, military families, local companies and more, several takeaways quickly emerged and remain very much a part of our work today:

The need to assist our nation’s military families is ever present.
Despite vast improvements in the transition assistance, mental health resources and general acknowledgement for military families, the period of major life transition(s) continue to be difficult. Even with tailwinds like a good economy and greater understanding of the specific needs, the period is difficult, can be long and we often hear frustrating. The need to make this period of transition easier for service members (and their families) have not diminished in the slightest. In our very first meeting with some local stakeholders – I will always remember one participant stating, “They are looking for their next Purpose. Mission. Team.” The axiom still applies and personally remains a constant refrain in my mind even 6 years later.

Constant education is required
I mentioned our first year of existence was basically spent in a lab – dissecting the groups, language and processes to the “military world”. We have continued to do this and continually engage new groups, try to understand new needs and trends or see where gaps might exist that we could plug. We additionally try to do this with our employer partners – bridging the divide between HR/employer and the military/milspouse talent market. It can be difficult to keep tabs on it all as there are routinely changes, there are new faces to build relationships with and still so much we simply remain in the infant stage on. Yet, we press on with education and learning on multiple fronts because again the need has not diminished.

The family as a central building block
We saw it at that first event and confirmed it in our learning later, the spouse, kids, etc. that surround our US service members are central to the success of their service and are the key determinant in their life post-military. As much as the service member is sacrificing on your and my behalf, their family sacrifices much as well – through deployments, moving/PCS, training, etc. At the same time, family members have their own transition needs – some of which can be even more pronounced owing to the churn they have been subjected to in military life. Accordingly, from Day 1 to this day, we have always placed a special emphasis on the military family – freely offering our assistance to both service member and spouse or child alike.

Though much remains the same and almost serve as a “true north” for our work, these past 6 years have seen a constant evolution to improve the work of HKY4Vets. We have learned a tremendous deal in those evolutions – making some good calls and some bad ones. Regardless, we are proud that this organization is willing to change and eagerly seeks it out in the name of bettering the outcomes of the people we work with and the community we are honored to represent.

In an era when so much seems built for quick fixes or people/organizations so easily give up, we are proud to build something that has sustained to this point and we hope/believe will sustain into the future because that initial candle is by no means flickering, but instead putting off a greater light and heat than ever.

In closing, I want to note one last foundational component to this whole thing – something that started in that car ride and is woven to the DNA of HKY4Vets. It is an honor for us to do this.

None of our team have personally served in our Armed Forces, but this is a way we can serve those that have served. We take this duty very seriously and see it as a way to use our gifts, our position in life and years of building trusted relationships to the benefit of those that ensure security for you/me and that ensure the freedoms you/I often take for granted. It is the least we can do given the level of offered sacrifices, but it is with a joy we do it and will continue to do for a very long time.

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