Paying it Forward as a Force Multiplier for Veterans
"The biggest theme of my career has always been improving public service," says Tim Embree, client engagement director at Leidos.
In his current role, he works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to connect VA representatives with people at Leidos who can help solve any challenge the organization faces. Embree has a deep connection with the VA—as a part of the military community, an advocate for veterans' benefits, and someone who previously worked within the VA.
Military Service and Education
Embree served more than eight years in the Marine Corps. He enlisted as a college student seeking a purpose for his education and career path. He spent his sophomore summer completing boot camp and earned a bachelor's degree in four years while a drilling reservist.
“Even though I was a lot busier than most of my fellow college students, being a part of the Marine Corps gave me the focus and motivation I needed," he says.
Trained as a field radio operator, Embree continued to find himself working in small teams in each unit he joined. These small teams took him to the jungles of Peru and on two combat tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his final tour, he served as a member of a Military Transition Team, which trained and fought alongside the Iraqi army.
After eight-and-a-half years in military uniform, Embree transitioned to civilian roles in public service.
Advice on Transitioning from Military to Civilian Careers
Embree's best piece of advice to veterans is to be open-minded about which industries to get into after years of military service.
“When you do transition out, there may be opportunities there that you would not have come up with on your own," he offers. “Network, find some interesting challenges, be willing to get out of your comfort zone for a while, and recognize that it can really pay off in the end."
Following this mindset, Embree's career path has been diverse, ranging from political campaigns to working in a mayor's office and later serving as a lobbyist for the veteran advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Later, he was a Congressional Relations Officer for the VA and then a consultant for a private company.
He has enjoyed a rewarding career in various roles in which he enacted changes to government programs to improve people's lives. He worked on programs such as the Mission Act, helping the VA provide better health care services to veterans.
“One of the biggest issues I worked on was the post-9/11 GI Bill 2.0," Embree adds. The new GI bill provides a modern educational benefit to service members and veterans, including payment of tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for textbooks and supplies.
“After the bill passed, it had technical errors which made it not very usable."
He led the team that helped rewrite the law to make it more beneficial and practical. After getting the revised bill passed, Embree realized he should take advantage of the benefits he earned as a veteran. As a result, he earned a master's degree from Georgetown University.
A Lasting Impact on the Military Community
In his current role at Leidos, Embree works as a “force multiplier," helping to increase the effectiveness of his colleagues and their partner organizations.
“I get to work with VA folks every single day and talk to them to learn about what's going on and understand their problems," he shares. “And then I get to connect them with people at Leidos who can really help them. It's an exciting opportunity, and I'm really enjoying what I'm doing."
He is excited to continue working toward modernizing the VA's systems.
“The VA continues to make phenomenal improvements, and I'm confident that in a couple of years, people are going to look at VA as the gold standard of how federal programs should be run," he says. “It's going to be a customer-centric organization that is modernized to meet the needs of their users, the veterans."
Embree's ultimate goal is to improve programs and the user experience so that every veteran can turn to the VA to take full advantage of the benefits they earned.