‘Take Advantage of Every Single Opportunity’ – USAF’s Keith Pierson on Veteran Scholarship

At the start of his career, Keith Pierson was taught that “Flexibility is the key to Airpower.” For years, the Air Force adage has rung true even beyond the bounds of the military. Pierson, a DRI Foundation Veteran’s Outreach Program Scholarship recipient, believes that flexibility is imperative for success in any situation. The program, which enables veterans to take the Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) course and receive their certification at no cost, allows veterans a new form of flexibility that is so essential in the business world. “Staying flexible is key,” Pierson says, “You don’t know what opportunity might present itself to you, and this certification is another card in your deck.” 

Pierson joined the Air Force after the September 11 attacks. He began as a special purpose vehicle maintenance mechanic at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Pierson then traveled to several different bases as a mechanics instructor. After this, his career changed course, ultimately leading to his current position as an airman and family readiness program manager at Vandenberg Space Force Base. As a readiness manager, he prepares Airmen and Guardians to deploy, links families to resources, and mitigates crises.

His introduction to the CBCP course began when he discovered that the skills and concepts covered in the course aligned with those taught in the military. Upon first reading about the course, Pierson recalls thinking, “This sounds like everything we do in the military. We have to get people certified on this.” He believes that the CBCP course enables veterans to “use a culmination of their skills again.”

The CBCP course helps veterans take the knowledge they already have and translate and adapt it for the private sector. “We have a special set of skills in the military, and it’s hard for us to understand how those translate because, in the civilian world, there’s a different language that’s being spoken,” Pierson says. “This certification was the cipher that taught us that we do the same things, we just speak a different language.”

Pierson also emphasizes the value of the certification, explaining how no matter how clear the path after active duty may seem, the reality is not always so cut and dried. He believes the key to handling the unknown is preparation. “Take advantage of every single opportunity. This is just another opportunity that you can use to leverage your experience to help you.” Pierson explains that the CBCP course and certification can open new doors for veterans and prepare them for opportunities they may not have even considered previously.

Speaking of how the course helps aid the transition back to civilian life, Pierson says the course can help reassure veterans that they have the skills to succeed after their time in the military. “It gave us a lot of hope because it let us know that there are success stories of how vets out there have been hired to get jobs,” he says. “It shows us that yes, there’s life on the other side. It gave us hope that we can adapt and overcome.”

About the Veterans Outreach Program Scholarship

Disaster Recovery International (DRI) Foundation is committed to helping our veterans succeed. To do our part, the Foundation has created a Veterans Outreach Program to help our Veterans realize their dreams and help both themselves and their respective organizations achieve great success as they transition into the professions of emergency response, crisis management, business continuity and disaster recovery.

The Veterans Outreach Program’s focus is to establish an industry-first “giving-back” scholarship program to active duty or recently separated (within five years) veterans of our United States Military. The scholarship will include, at no cost to qualified candidates, admission to Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) educational course (BCLE 2000), all course materials, qualifying examination, and all applicable certification application fees. These certifications are the standards of excellence in business continuity management and will help the candidate to stand out as a job candidate in this competitive field. Certifications acknowledge an individual’s effort to achieve a professional level of competency in the industry.

For information, visit https://foundation.drii.org/what-we-do/veterans-outreach-program/

Article by Michelle Masiello for DRI