On June 22nd, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. More commonly known as the GI Bill, this act provided millions of returning service members the opportunity to receive educational and financial benefits. These benefits included money for education and training, home loan guarantees, and even unemployment benefits. By the time the original bill ended in 1956, almost eight million World War II Veterans had participated in an educational or training program. The GI Bill has undergone two major revisions since its original adoption, but the core aim of the bill has remained constant– to provide educational benefits for Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
In recent years, our country has seen a large number of men and women separating from the military services, and the transition to civilian life can be difficult. The services themselves, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, have many programs to help ease this transition. This helps service members get jobs, apply for college, or receive job-specific training.
The REALTORS® Land Institute has created its own program to assist transitioning service members. It was implemented in 2014 and is known as the Military Transition Program or MTP. The MTP provides enormous benefits for service members who are interested in the land or real estate industry. Anyone who has served in any US military service since the year 2000 is eligible. I have personally benefited a great deal from the MTP and would like to tell you all about it.
First, here is a short personal military history. I spent 9 years in the US Navy after receiving my commission thorough Auburn University’s ROTC program. I had dreamt of flying jets on and off aircraft carriers since I was very young. So…that’s what I did. After training to fly and receiving my Wings of Gold in Pensacola, FL, in 2005, I was assigned to Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA, where I trained for nine months in a F/A-18 Super Hornet. I then spent three years stationed in Atsugi, Japan, and deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS George Washington in the Western Pacific Ocean. Following my operational tour, I was sent to Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA, where I served as a flight instructor in a F/A-18. After one year, I was assigned to serve as Flag Aide to the Commanding Admiral of the Joint Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Once complete there, I returned to Lemoore, CA, where I served an additional year as a flight instructor.
I left active duty in July of 2012 after 9 years of service. I transitioned to the Navy Reserve and continue to serve the standard “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” in Jacksonville, FL. After separation, my first task was to return to school–just like a veteran returning from WWII. I attended the University of Florida and received my Masters in Real Estate. I then joined Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Winter Haven, FL to start my new career in land real estate.
Thanks to the MTP, my transition was a smooth one. My first experience with the REALTORS® Land Institute was at the National Land Conference in Charleston, SC in March of 2014. I had only been in the land business a few weeks and was somewhat apprehensive about fitting in and networking with all the other land professionals in attendance. But my apprehension soon turned to excitement. At the opening session, I was introduced to the entire assembly. I also participated in an exclusive MTP session which included the Institute president, past president, and entire executive committee. This gave me the opportunity to meet others as I attended various sessions and networking events. It was easy to strike up a conversation–mainly due to having been introduced at the opening session. Each and every person I met went to great lengths to welcome me to the Institute and to offer help or advice whenever I needed it. I realized very quickly that the Institute was the perfect launching platform for my new career.
When you do the math, that’s over $1600 worth of benefits! Plus, the non-monetary benefits are even greater. When I first joined the Institute through the MTP, I was personally called by Ray Brownfield, ALC Advanced. Ray is also a veteran who spent several decades in the military in addition to the land business. He personally contacts every person who joins through the MTP. I must say, although I have joined many real estate related organizations since leaving the Navy, the REALTORS® Land Institute is the only one I have ever joined where someone called to welcome me to their group.
I also had the benefit of a conference call for MTP members with Bill Eshenbaugh, ALC, who donated several education scholarships to the MTP in honor of his brother, John Eshenbaugh. Bill is a very experienced land broker in Tampa, FL, who does an incredible job of networking and connecting various individuals. He did a great job of encouraging the MTP members in our new careers and gave us the opportunity to leverage his network to connect with others in the industry.
Opportunities like these are just a small sample of my experiences after having joined the Institute through the MTP. In general, the entire group of members has been well above average in terms of making a new guy feel welcome in a brand new community. I’ve had frequent instances of people saying “thank you for your service,” followed by an engaging conversation about the land business and an offer to help however they could. These encounters solidified my desire to be heavily involved in the Institute, and I have already seen lots of success networking and collaborating on deals with other members.
So, for everything that I have benefited from since the day I joined the organization, let me turn the tables and say to the REALTORS® Land Institute, “thank you for your service!” For more information about the benefits available through the MTP, please contact RLI at 800-441-5263.
Caleb McDow, Institute Member, is a member of Crosby & Associates, Inc in Winter Haven, FL. Caleb is originally from Shelby County, AL, and attended college at Auburn University graduating in May of 2003. After graduation, Caleb spent 9 years in the US Navy flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet and was stationed in Japan, California, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He continues to serve in the US Navy Reserve. Caleb’s current specialty is with agricultural land in Florida, focusing primarily in the north and north central regions. Caleb has a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA to operate as a certified commercial drone pilot.
If you know of a service member who would benefit from MTP, please refer them. For more information about the Military Transition Program, contact the Institute at 800.441.5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.