Every day, about 550 U.S. military vets return to civilian life. As the U.S. draws down from more than decade of remote warfare, the armed forces are expected to shed nearly 250,000 soldiers annually from 2014 to 2019, according to The Economist. Most confront the challenge of finding a new job and learning new skills.
“In my area alone, we have about 10,000 people getting out of the military every year,” Jeff Guild says. “Some percentage of them will be interested in commercial real estate, and CCIM isn't just an accreditation, it's an education. It can be a good fit for certain veterans getting out.”
It's proven to be ideal for Guild and three other veterans who recently took the CI 102 class in Chicago through the CCIM Veterans in Real Estate Program. The program, which CCIM Institute offers in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, gives vets the chance to fund their CCIM coursework through the GI Bill.
Guild, vice president of debt and structured finance at CBRE Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Va., was a Navy SEAL for 20 years. When he retired, Guild attended the Acton School of Business, where he developed an interest in real estate.
After Guild started at CBRE, he learned about the CCIM designation from a colleague, found out about the veterans' program, and started his coursework. “It's perfect for me,” Guild says. “On the capital market side where I work, specifically in debt and structured finance, the financial analysis that we learn in CCIM coursework directly correlates with what I do at CBRE.”
Steven Rosa-Pagan, on the other hand, had started his career in residential real estate in Puerto Rico before joining the U.S. Army in 2006. He served with a combat unit in Iraq from 2008 to 2009. When Rosa-Pagan returned, he stayed in the U.S. Army reserves and resumed his real estate career.
When he left the service in 2014, “I wanted to do something more challenging,” Rosa-Pagan says. He joined RE/MAX Commercial Associates in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the firm's president, JM Padron, CCIM, introduced him to the CCIM program, encouraging him to pursue the designation and pointing him toward the veterans' program.
“Every step has helped me to improve myself,” Rosa-Pagan says. “I can market better and conduct more research. My clients are happier because I've used what I learned in CCIM courses to help them.”
Rosa-Pagan also is a broker in the commercial division of RE/MAX Divine Properties in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he hopes to be the first CCIM in his office.
Jackson Berry, who began his military career in Air Force ROTC at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has been a reservist at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., since 2012. He's also worked in commercial real estate in Grand Junction, Colo., where he serves as associate broker and property manager at Red Compass Realty. His CCIM courses “really help me to understand the full cycle of real estate - from the purchase through management and adding value to the property - all the way through the close.”
Berry finds that his military skills have blended well with his coursework. “I did a lot of research, analysis, and writing in my military career,” he says.
Jeremy Otto is an agent at Coldwell Banker Action in Schofield, Wis. After six years in the U.S. Army, he left in 2009. Otto believes the CCIM designation will help differentiate him in his market.
“The coursework is rigorous and challenging,” Otto says, “but it definitely opens up your mind.”
When he arrived at the CCIM designation course in Chicago, “I didn't assume that there would be other veterans,” Otto says. “I thought I was going to be the only one. But when you do get to be around other veterans, it's a bonding experience.”
Rosa-Pagan concurs. “With our background, we're going to apply the same things that we did when we were in the military - teamwork and strategy. That's a very strong tie that all veterans are going to have.”