Leaving No Man Or Woman Behind With Alba Melgar-C-De Baca
SNIPPET # 50
She was a little girl living with her family in Mexico. As far as Alba was concerned, Mexico was her home – until her parents announced the family would be leaving. They had obtained work visas in the country they believed offered their children a more viable path to the lives envisioned for them. America, they believed, would be the place their family could achieve whatever they set their minds upon.
The large extended family made the move as one. Whoever didn’t go straight to work went straight to school, inching their way toward the American Dream they’d heard so much about.
It was not an easy path but Alba Melgar-C-De Baca
felt lucky to walk it and determined to work her way to success.
With her mother’s insistence that education would open more doors for her, Alba went all the way to her Ph.D. Along the way to that Ph.D. she’d also embarked on a career in the United States military.
For almost three decades, Alba Melgar –C’De Baca was physically and mentally conditioned to do whatever was needed and go wherever she was ordered to go. She worked her way up to become an officer and a leader, responsible for the welfare of an entire battalion.
Let’s say that again:
The petite woman who emigrated from Mexico worked her way up in the military to become a battalion leader.
Anyone who thinks that is easy should spend 5 minutes with Alba.
The week after Alba defended her Ph.D. she deployed to a combat zone for the third and final time. Now, with 29 years of combined service in the Air Force and Army, she’s leaving the military as a Lieutenant Colonel.
For so many veterans, the transition between service and civilian life is a dangerous period in their lives. After years of living a life of prolonged deployments, intense situations, losing friends in battles, and often sustaining injuries themselves, these men and women are thanked for their service and sent along their way.
The disparity in training and support throughout their military careers and the training and support once they leave is immense.
Upon entering the military they are stripped of all civilian tendencies, mindsets, and behaviors and rebuilt into someone who thinks of the team before themselves. They are trained to follow orders, do what is needed whenever and wherever it is needed, and dedicate themselves to the mission.
Upon leaving the military they are stripped of all those duties, expected to shirk off their memories and forget about their rank, and blend back into a population that has no idea what they’ve been through but which now outranks them in the professional world. Someone who has been a combat medic for 5 or 10 years is now not permitted to suture a small wound. Or maybe they have lead an entire battalion into a combat zone, but must now be grateful for an entry level job.
On top of professional culture shock, veterans are faced with relationships that must be reestablished at home. Deployments change everyone in a family unit as those at home must manage all responsibilities and celebrate milestones alone, while those deployed are shaped by their deployment experiences and now face a gap between the family they knew before, and the family they return home to.
Alba Melgar C-De Baca could have fallen into that gap, but took the offensive approach. Her wife Cassaundra Melgar C-De Baca is also a veteran. Cassaundra is a well-established veterans advocate and powerhouse in the world of getting things done. Her own non-profit F7 impacts lives across the country and grew her already impressive network even larger. The closer Alba got to retirement, the more Cassaundra helped her wife prepare for that transition.
Today the two are both in leadership positions at an organization that helps veterans and qualified family members cut right through the mayhem and work straight towards success.
VETTED is a dynamic non-profit that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become sought-after leaders and entrepreneurs in the civilian work space.
Alba is now the Chief Operating Officer at this non-profit. She’s also an alumnus of the program.
For two months, Alba immersed herself in about 40-50 hours a week of VETTED’s intense Veteran Accelerated Management Program. This executive education packs about 3 years of MBA training into less than three months of hardcore work. Students experience high-level hands-on training in real life workforce environments.
It’s boot camp for civilians.
Alba joined fellow students as they learned new skills and traits that are paramount to success in the civilian workforce. Business models, networking and autonomy over their own career choices are not familiar to someone who has been in military service for any length of time.
Even as a battalion leader, Alba was told where to take her battalion and what the mission was. Now, she says, there is no one to tell her what her next great thing will be. For Alba and her fellow veterans as well as spouses whose lives centered around deployments and assignments, this sudden silence where purpose once screamed can be confusing.
VETTED fills that silence with a new message. “Now it’s up to you to determine your next great thing.”
Graduates of both the corporate and entrepreneurial track exemplify the success of this program. One Navy SEAL turned his K9 training experience into a top canine training company of his own while a graduate of the corporate track is now a chief surgeon at a major hospital. Without VETTED’s guidance, training, mentorship and support, both men may still be struggling to find a path for their purpose.
Alba Melgar C’ De Baca is on the brink of her next great thing, and she is leading a whole new battalion into theirs.