Life after military service can be a challenge for many veterans, but one local one has taken it on to become a successful businessman.
A career in the military began at age 17 for Stanley Sanchez, a Dominican-born man raised in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. He served 13 years in the U.S. Navy.
As he saw the world at his several stations, Sanchez said he also began to investigate his opportunities following his service. He liked the idea of becoming a business owner.
“It was an idea that I had for a long time while I was in the military,” he said. “And after getting out of the Navy, I worked several jobs and things like that, but the idea was always there.”
As Veterans Day approaches, Sanchez said he can relate to many others who have problems adjusting to civilian life. Because it’s been so long since they’ve lived that way, they share a common fear. Many have lost their sense of worth.
“You get out, and your life has no structure. Expectations are set,” he said. “You need to write a resume, but the words that you’re writing on this resume are nothing like the words that you were writing on your evaluation in the Navy.”
Looking to combat that feeling, Sanchez built his resume with jobs that helped give him the experience necessary to pursue his dream job. He moved to Washington state in 2012 and worked as a general manager of a hotel, among other positions.
Sanchez took classes that boosted his skills in resume writing, preparing for interviews and many other aspects of jobs in the civilian world. He said programs offered by the Navy and state organizations such as WorkSource were helpful in his transition, and he would recommend other veterans try those programs.
“They also have some veteran advocates, so that they know how to help you translate your skills from one to the other,” he said of military to civilian life.
The wait and hard work paid off for Sanchez when he launched his own franchise of Ace Handyman Services in early 2022 in Bremerton, a subsidiary of Ace Hardware. He’s worked through the year to quadruple his staff size and is continuing to expand his service area and job opportunities.
While some veterans continue their search for worth, Sanchez hopes that his success will inspire others. He said that the most important piece of advice to give veterans is that they have value after the military, and there is so much more than can accomplish.
“Don’t step out there thinking that you don’t have anything to offer,” he said. “You do, and there are people out there looking for what you have to offer.”