In 2013, combat veteran Adam Gonzales found himself in anguish every morning as he sat in his truck in the parking lot before work.
“I am now a slave here in America,” Gonzalez, now 38, remembers thinking about that slightly more-than-minimum-wage job in Chicago.
But in that struggle, Gonzalez found inspiration to help his fellow vets.
Gonzalez and his wife Susan, who is also a veteran, are the founders of Silent Professionals, an online job board specializing in connecting combat veterans with employers in the global private security sector.
“We understand that it can be hard to find job opportunities suited for your unique skill set, because at Silent Professionals, we’ve all been there,” the Silent Professionals job page reads.
A former Army infantryman, Adam left the military in 2004 after four years of service. He transitioned easily into the private security world.
For almost a decade following his discharge, Adam built an extensive global security resume. He operated in high-paying contract positions across multiple countries. He was entrusted with protecting executives and diplomats, such as former American diplomat Paul Bremmer. He also provided direct support of military combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But in 2012, Adam experienced a close call that convinced him to quit contracting and try working “a normal guy job.”
“A rocket hit the hut that I was living in while I was working in Afghanistan. I was not in it, but I figure that this must be a sign,” said Adam.
This transition was not easy.
“After so many years spent overseas, I had no network in the US. I knew no one,” he said.
Adam questioned why he spent so much time overseas and whether it was worthwhile.
In 2014, he moved to Texas and began working in stateside executive protection, providing security for oil and gas bigwigs and occasionally celebrities, including rap artist Lil Wayne.
Soon after, Adam met Susan, a former military intelligence officer working as a civilian in the oil and gas sector.
The two would ultimately marry — and realize that they could merge their expertise to create a new kind of employment outlet for veterans.
Silent Professionals helps veterans who have combat-related military occupational specialties in multiple ways. The site translates vet resumes into a language that civilian employers can understand. Its job board includes openings across a wide range of security-oriented roles, as well as jobs in logistics, administration and other areas. Registration and access to the entire site are free for military and law enforcement veterans.
“We get good people to jobs that are in need of being filled,” said Susan.
Since the website went live in July 2017, Silent Professionals has connected more than 1,200 veterans with positions abroad and in the US. Their placement rate is growing monthly, according to Susan, who handles the site’s data analytics. She also leverages her corporate experience to expand Silent Professionals’ employer catalog.
Starting the job portal has brought Adam happiness and a sense of purpose, Susan said.
“The job is also therapy for him. It makes him happy when he can find someone employment, because he knows what it’s like to be underutilized," she said.
Neil is a former US Army Captain and served operational deployments in South Korea and Afghanistan. He is currently an Editorial Fellow at the Military Times.