Transitioning to Civilian Life and Work: Featuring Retired USN Commander Steve Garza


SkillMil recently interviewed retired US Navy Commander Steve Garza about his time in the military and his transition back to civilian life.


Commander Garza served in the Navy for 25 years on submarines in the Pacific. He completed his career in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he worked as the Fleet Training Officer at Commander, U.S. Submarines, Pacific Fleet and as of Submarine Force, Executive Officer on the USS Tucson.


Seeking a career as an engineer, he saw the Navy as a great opportunity to achieve both an education in engineering and gain applied experience. He enlisted as an electrician in 1992, and later was given the opportunity to attend the University of Arizona to complete his Electrical Engineering degree, and commission through the Officer Candidate School (OCS), at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He quickly progressed through all of his training and qualification programs and advanced through the ranks of Ensign to Commander, serving on SSBN, SSGN, and SSN class Submarines.


As the Fleet Training Officer, it was Commander Garza’s responsibility to oversee all training and development and track qualifications and progress of fleet training programs, ranging from apprentice to highly qualified personnel. He developed and implemented a new fleet training software program which validated the effectiveness of training, exams, and detailed qualification and proficiency records for every watchstander onboard submarines.


Since transitioning, he has worked as an entrepreneur and co-founder of SkillMil. Serving as CTO, he is responsible for ensuring the successful launch of SkillMIl’s newest innovation in Veteran job placement and transition support services. In addition to being SkillMil’s CTO, Steve works as a Senior Manager of Logistics and Supply Chain Management for a Fortune 500 company in San Diego, CA.


Commander Garza’s successful entry into the civilian workforce was attributed to the military skills and confidence he gained while serving in the military. He developed leadership and communication skills throughout his military career, as well as program management and global-scale project management experience. Also, the teamwork, and mission accomplishments achieved while serving in the military, has helped Commander Garza apply those core values into his civilian assignments and tasks with a focused vision and leadership approach. While he didn’t leave the military with a background in logistics, the level of planning and oversight responsibilities he managed on a daily basis during his service prepared him for his current career.


Upon retiring, Commander Garza was surprised to learn that the pay in the civilian workforce is not all that different than military pay, due to the many tax benefits and allowances military members receive. Additionally, he recognized the difference in camaraderie within the civilian workforce, simply due to people working remotely or being spread out across various locations within the company in different parts of the globe.

While preparing for his transition, Commander Garza sought out several non-profit organizations, as well as VA services providing support to veterans in transition. Once such program he recommends is VetCTAP in San Diego which provides coaching and job placement preparation for veterans, including resume writing, interview skills, and significant networking opportunities, of which inevitably lead to his successful hire into his current supply chain management position.


Commander Garza recognizes the significant challenge that many veterans face in their transition to civilian life and work. Many veterans undervalue their military experience or simply do not know how to market or explain their skills to employers. He notes that one possible reason for this is that service members often move from one military position (or assignment) to another without ever having to interview or sell their experience. Transferring to a new military job or position is a natural part of military career progression and facilitated by a dedicated military detailer who tells the service member exactly where and when to arrive at his/her next job or assignment. He advises transitioning veterans to use as many of the available resource opportunities provided by veteran friendly companies and organizations out there dedicated to assisting veterans in transition. Get as much coaching and mentoring as needed to learn how to communicate and promote the transferable skills gained during service. “It’s not always easy,” Garza claims. “After retirement, service members not only have to find a new career, but also have to figure out a new way of everyday life.”


“SkillMil is here to help.” SkillMil provides significant value to transitioning veterans by translating military skills and experience into equivalent civilian profiles that civilian employers recognize. SkillMil aligns veteran job seekers with companies seeking confident, highly skilled team members to fill key positions within their organization. SkillMil is simple to use, and instantly converts VMETs and resumes into professional profiles. SkillMil’s “SkillScore” matching tool uses AI to find the best fit candidates for the job and directly connects the veteran with hiring professionals within the organization. Commander Garza recommends signing up for a SkillMil account to improve your transition plan and kickstart your network.

Visit SkillMil.com today.


Your job: Use your resume, LinkedIn, and/or VMET and with the click of a few buttons, let our software help you create a great profile.

Our job: Highlight your military skill sets to Veteran friendly companies and get you hired.

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