Severna Park High School graduate Brett Miller seems like the perfect Army cliché.
Miller, now 31, failed out of the University of Maryland after two years and found himself working a dead-end job at Wendy’s. After coming to the realization that taking orders at the Wendy’s drive-through wasn’t a career, Miller decided to join the army.
“Me and my friend got the job at Wendy’s as an in-between school thing,” Miller said. “He left for school and I was just working at Wendy’s and playing video games. Joining the military wasn’t like, ‘oh I want money for school' or ‘oh, I want to fight for my country.’ It was like I need to do something. I had no idea what to do, so that’s what I did.”
Miller signed up to join the U.S. Army where he became a combat medic. After boot camp he was stationed at Fort Wainwright, AK from 2003-2005 and then deployed to Iraq in 2005 for 16 months. Miller said his unit served the longest consecutive tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Miller served five years in the army and afterwards he went to Anne Arundel Community College for three semesters and then back to the University of Maryland where he graduated with a finance degree in May 2011. Then Miller entered a whole different battle—the search for a job.
“When I first got out of school, I applied for like a billion jobs,” Miller said. “I just went online and threw applications everywhere. And in all that time and applications I got two callbacks—two in six months of applying.”
Miller took the only job he was offered, one at New York Life. It was a sales job that paid solely on commission and not one he liked.
“I sucked at it,” he said. “It was pure commissions sales, selling life insurance and I just didn’t like it.”
Miller began applying for more and more jobs and quickly found out that while his time spent in the Army may have put him on the right track—the five years he lost while doing so hindered his résumé.
“The thing is people don’t care about military experience,” he said. “I thought I would get a job no problem—a Maryland finance degree is pretty good.”
Miller added, “The biggest thing I took away from the military is they say the military puts you ahead in life and blah, blah. The military may guide you on the proper steps but you still lose five years. I am 31 and just graduated from college compared to a 22-year-old graduate with workplace experience—employers care more about that.”
More than a year after he graduated from Maryland, Miller was living in Severna Park, working part-time at Sport Fit, and still searching for a job.
Last Tuesday, he found a job as a retail management trainee at Ryder, a truck rental company. A friend helped him get the job.
“I loved my time in the military. It’s great if you are like me and just amiss wandering, but be prepared to lose five years,” Miller said. “I don’t get those five years back to work in finance, and I have to be the 31-year-old college graduate and people look at you weird.”