Lee is a Marine Corps Veteran and Senior Vice President of Operations at Soapy Joe’s Car Wash in San Diego County. He lives in North County.

In the summer of 2017, my 20-year career as a Marine Corps officer came to an end as a lieutenant colonel. I was a young captain – a naval aviator on my first deployment – when the 9/11 attacks hit, and then spent most of my career fighting and flying in the long conflict that has regular. It was an experience that exceeded my wildest expectations. He ran the gamut of the emotional spectrum, often focusing on extremes. I am grateful for the experience and the perspective that comes with it. My experience in the Marine Corps will always be an important part of who I am.

As my time in uniform came to an end, I had to take on a new challenge. I had to figure out how to make the most of a whole new chapter in life for me and my family. Where were we going to live? What was I going to do for a career? The options seemed endless. That itself made him incredibly overwhelming.

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Transitioning out of the military is a challenge for all service members and each case is unique. The transition decision is personal. The list of considerations is long. Individual hopes, dreams, and desires for what we might be doing in the next chapter of life are also unique. I had to rely on one of my strengths, which is to simplify a complex subject. I had to make it as easy as possible for myself. I first had to answer a question: What was my main professional passion? Being an aviator and piloting a CH-53E helicopter in combat was great, but it wasn’t my passion. My real passion was people: my fellow Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen and coalition partners. Doing my part, being a leader and a great teammate, and contributing to the good culture of the unit was what I loved. It was and still is my passion.

Once I defined this passion, it helped me realize that I was looking for a situation, not a job. I defined this situation as a “leadership position in a small or medium-sized business trying to grow”. Understanding these metrics and the passion made the endless list of job vacancies much less overwhelming. But I still had to figure out how to get there.

There are several exceptional organizations here in San Diego that help veterans in transition. I encourage every veteran in transition to start early and work with multiple organizations. They are a great resource! But the responsibility always lies with the individual. You have to answer the tough questions yourself. You have to do the job. Networking is also vital. In my last year of active duty, I was networking at least three or four evenings a week. Some of them were at events. Some were informational interviews. Some would get together for a cup of coffee with someone willing to share advice. Each of these interactions was invaluable.

My first transition went well. I found what I was looking for with a North County company, but never stopped working with my network. This ultimately led to a phone call from a company wanting to speak to me, which in turn led to a series of interviews and conversations that presented another opportunity. This new opportunity was exactly what I wanted and was in line with the parameters I had set in my transition process. The opportunity was my current position at Soapy Joe’s Car Wash. Always take the meeting!

Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity at Soapy Joe’s, a family-owned car wash in San Diego, to lead a fast growing organization with over 15 locations and, most importantly, to contribute to an organization. that values ​​people and the community. Our values ​​of building community, leading with heart, building fans, doing the right thing, being proud, having fun and deciding to “keep learning” define a culture that I love. to be part and that feeds my passion. The fast pace, decision making and leadership challenges associated with having so many locations is a bonus! Every day I remain grateful for my military experience. I’m also grateful to be a part of a great corporation and to be a permanent member of the San Diego County community where I can also continue to network with the next generation by asking the tough questions about what comes next. the army.


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