Lake Forest/ Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What is Project RELO and was the inspiration for launching the organization?
Casey McEuin: Project RELO is a National nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. We are very innovative and unorthodox in our approach. Alot of veterans organizations focus solely on the individual veterans. What we do is train corporate executives to understand the true value of hiring a veteran, so we are making the change at the top of organizations. That way it can trickle down to the rest of the company to actually make a bigger impact for veterans in corporate America. We take corporate executives and CEOs out of the comfort of their offices and immerse them in a 3-day military operation on US Army bases. They have to become followers for possibly the first time in their careers. It forces them to leverage the experience and the knowledge of the veterans they are partnered with to overcome the scripted and unscripted obstacles we put them through. Some of these executives accustomed to 5-Star accommodations are now sleeping in tents and getting their hands dirty. What happens is that the mindsets of these executives and corporations change from hiring veterans because it's the socially good thing to do, to realizing that these men and women veterans are strategic thinkers, and hiring them because its good for their business. Our job is basically to help them understand the true essence of what hiring veterans can do for them.
Christian Anschutz, who is the Chief Digital Officer with UL and a Marine Corps veteran founded the business, and I was one of the first veterans that came on a project at the very inception of the organization. Christian and I had the exact same plan and thoughts about how we could grow this organization together. We looked for the places where corporate executives and veterans experience intersected. RELO in the urban dictionary means family...so we’re just trying to create a family, or a strong network, of corporations and veterans.
LFLBC: What is your vision for the organization?
CM: Our goal is to be the go-to nonprofit organization for veterans. We want to be the tip of the spear when it comes to veteran transition. We want to make a dent in corporate America by penetrating every company from Fortune 500 all the way to small businesses to communicate the values that veterans bring to an organization. Right now, the veteran unemployment rate is at an all-time low, but that doesn’t account for veteran underemployment—veterans may have 20 years of experience and now they’re only making $10 or $11 an hour and having to take on two or three jobs just to get by. We want to make sure they have a brand-new career starting as soon as they are out of the service, making at least as much or more than what they made before, at a level that maximizes their skills.
LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Project RELO?
CM: We’re very transparent. Every dollar donated to Project Relo goes to helping veterans. We’re one of the good guys.
LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative so far?
CM: In a very short amount of time, we’ve already worked with over 300 companies, including three Fortune 10 organizations. LinkedIn has done a documentary on us, and we’ve done partnership videos with JCPenney. We’re new, but we’ve already been able to achieve incredible global reach.
LFLBC: What is your tie to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff?
We were founded in Chicago and we operate all our missions on a base in northern Michigan. I’m in Texas, but we have people around the country. We work with several LF/LB Chamber members, and we’d love to work with more companies in the area.
LFLBC: Which local businesses do you work with?
We have a big event coming up at Lake Forest Ferrari on Wednesday, August 28th. It’s our launch party for our big Casino Royale fundraiser in November. Also, we’ve have had a few LF/LB Chamber members come on missions.
LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
We want to take care of veterans more than anything. Veterans live in every single community, and when we partner with companies in an area like Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, we can help so many veterans in that area. We’re constantly out there working for veterans.
LFLBC: Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
CM: Come join us on August 28th at Ferrari Lake Forest. We're going to have fun, food and Ferrari’s...so it’s going to be a great night. We’ll be telling everyone about Project RELO, and they can meet people who have been on Project RELO missions. Tickets are available on our website: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/project-relo-chicago-casino-royale-launch-party-tickets-63376651270