Courtesy: Cat Corchado

Networking fellow veterans to success

February 22, 2018 - 3:32 pm

Cat Corchado is no stranger to persevering through difficult life circumstances. She joined the Air Force after becoming a single mother at a young age and went on to have a 20 year career in communications.

But her transition in 2000, she said, was horrible.

“I thought something’s wrong with me because the whole transition program at that time was survivor benefits, VA, health, dental, LinkedIn, and resume. That was it,” she said.

The discussion did not go deeper into issues such as where the service member was going to live or work after they got out.

“So, I thought that I was the problem,” Corchado said. “And it wasn’t until years later that I kept hearing more and more veterans saying ‘I’m struggling, I’m having a hard time.’ And I thought, wow, maybe this is a thing.”

Now, she is a real estate agent, but she is also dedicated to helping other military veterans in North Carolina and South Carolina through her “Welcome Veteran” program.

If a veteran is looking for help with employment, healthcare, or housing, Corchado reaches out to her professional network and connects them to people she thinks could help.

“What I do, is I call this person since I know them and I say 'hey, I have a veteran that I think that might be a good fit for you. Can we both come and talk to you about it?'” she said. “So it’s kind of that warm introduction.”

Corchado's method is to establish a connection between the veteran and resources instead of sending them to websites or have them cold call people.

She is currently working to get a non-profit status for her program and in the meantime she does not charge for her services.

Courtesy: Cat Corchado

“I’m just helping veterans because that’s my passion,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be out there and you’re just hanging and no one understands what you’re going through except another veteran.”

To reach Corchado for assistance in North Carolina or South Carolina, veterans can call 704-806-5771.

Corchado believes planning your transition should start at least two years out.

“Figuring out where you’re going to live, figure out where you’re moving. Networking when you can while you’re still in the military,” she said on areas veterans can start planning.

Corchado also recommends that before service members leave the military, that they get involved with veterans groups for networking and job purposes. In her own community, she is a peer leader with the Women Veterans Network (WoVeN) and a board member with the North Carolina Military Veteran Hall of Fame.

“So there’s lots of veterans groups that meet on weekends and at night; get in those groups as soon as you can.” Corchado said. “Because I’m a firm believer that finding a job is not in your resume or your cover letter. I truly believe that it’s who you know.”

In collaboration with the Service Women’s Action Network, we are featuring an inspiring woman veteran each month. Check out our last featured veteran: U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jennifer Esparza.