‘It Feels Like Home:’ Exchange Welcomes Newest Veteran Retail Management Trainees
Growing up an Army brat and then serving 12 years in the Air Force, Scott Laschkewitsch was familiar with the Exchange as a shopper. Now, he has a new perspective as a new hire in the Exchange’s Veteran Retail Management Training (VRMT) program.
An Exchange recruiter had reached out to Laschkewitsch, who spent more than a decade as a general manager with Sears.
Shortly after speaking with the recruiter, Laschkewitsch was watching the Army-Navy Game and saw an Exchange commercial, along with a halftime interview with Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull and actor Mark Wahlberg. The commercial got him thinking about working for the Exchange, and he applied.
He’s glad he did.
“It feels like home,” Laschkewitsch said.
Focus on recruiting, retaining managers
The training program focuses on recruiting and retaining Veterans in retail management positions. Since 2017, nearly 30 Veterans have completed the program, which is offered twice a year.
The most recent training class kicked off June with four trainees. The 12-week program alternates a week in the classroom with five weeks of training at an Exchange store. The next VRMT group will be recruited for spring 2020.
As the son of an Army colonel, Laschkewitsch grew up taking part in the MWR sports and activities that he only recently learned are supported by Exchange earnings.
“I was one of the people who gained from that,” said Laschkewitsch, who is training at the MacDill Air Force Base Exchange, learning how the main store, Express and other businesses operate. “It made sense to give back and be a part of that culture.”
The trainees’ military backgrounds are a huge asset to serving customers.
“As a Veteran, you connect in a way that a civilian cannot,” said Gregg Brasel, who served seven years in the Air Force as a radar, navigator and bombing systems specialist. He has more than a decade of experience in the auto parts retail industry and will train at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“The Exchange training is excellent,” Brasel said. “I just didn’t get this level and depth in the corporate world.”
Veterans are an asset to the Exchange.
“They know our customer because they have been our customer,” said Leigh Roop, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “They bring leadership, experience and a history of serving others to their work, and shoppers and associates are the beneficiaries.”
Other VRMTs include:
- Master Sgt. Troy Tyson, who has served in the Army and Army Reserves for 39 years, is training with the Exchange through the Department of Defense Career Skills Program. Fort Hood is his training location.
- Travis Harris, a seven-year Navy Veteran, is training at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.