U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Chan knew lifetime service members often struggled with transitioning to civilian life. Some 80 percent of them leave their first post-military job within two years. So, after joining the Executive MBA – Strategic Leadership (EMBA-SL) program at UT Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business in 2021, Chan and classmate Andrew Roberts, a recently retired U.S. Marines major, teamed up on a joint Organizational Action Project (OAP).
The goal of their nonprofit Veterans to Volunteers is to tackle the problem of veteran attrition in civilian jobs by bridging the gap between what traditional veteran service organizations (VSOs) provide and what potential employers need, helping former service members land and keep well-paying corporate jobs.
To bridge this disconnect, the Chan and Roberts worked both sides of the employer-employee equation. This dual approach would distinguish Veterans to Volunteers as a unique service, one that would help companies minimize turnover and hire the skills they value most.
“Especially because Andy and I are fresh off our transition to civilian life, this is our passion, this is our core,” Chan says. “This is our ‘why.’”
Read the full story to learn how Chan’s and Roberts’s joint project helped lay the foundation for an important nonprofit organization.