Ten Questions With Rorik Larson
This week’s article is with my fellow financial planner, Rorik Larson. Rorik lives in Palos Heights, Illinois. However, he served 22 years in the army as an aviator before retiring to the Chicago area in 2009. Read more to learn about Rorik’s experience in the Army, his challenges, and how he faced those challenges to create the live he has today.
- What’s your military background? Career, family, etc.
I served for 22 years in the Army as an aviator and had an eclectic career. My various positions included: air cavalry scout, flight school instructor, and working in aviation maintenance. My final tour was as the Secretary of the General Staff for V Corps in Heidelberg Germany. My son was born about 6 months before I retired.
- What is it that you wanted to do after you left active duty? Did you end up where you wanted to be?
Work as a financial planner. Yes, I achieved it. Finance has always been a passion for me. Since I had my own questions about my personal situation, I figured that learning about it would help me. I also realized that I had a passion for helping other people as well. I completed an MBA in financial planning while living in Germany and took the rigorous (then two day) CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ exam in Heidelberg prior to retirement. I moved to the Chicago area in 2009 during the Great Recession. After a period of unsuccessful job hunting, I set up my own financial planning firm and completed the requirements to become CFP ® professional. Also, I became admitted to represent clients before the IRS as an Enrolled Agent.
- What is it about your service experience do you think has best prepared you for your transition?
My bosses’ understanding that everyone’s career ends at some point. My last position, which involved managing the administration and logistics of a three-star executive suite gave me great experience at almost all the skills need to run a small business.
- Think of the most challenging part of your life to this point. What is it that you’ve done that helped you through it?
Divorce. The local support I have developed in my new community has been tremendous. I moved to the Chicago suburbs knowing only my in-laws. I have built a great support network through support groups, my church, professional colleagues, VA counselors, and in-laws.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you (or were you) in your financial situation as you transition?
I was initially a 3 and now am at 9. It took a while to develop various cash flows to add to my pension. I still make less than I did on active duty. However, my income is enough to support my son and me while maintaining a reasonable lifestyle.
- What was your biggest fear about your transition?
Running out of money and cash flow. Since my pension ended up being about one-third of my active duty take home pay, it took a couple of years for me to build up my business. I had to do this while relocating from overseas and raising a newborn. I retired into the 2009 economy, so it was very difficult to find a job. I had to live on savings for a while, and had some concerns about whether I could make it last. Over time, I was able to work through those concerns and I’m in a better place now.
- If you had one question that someone could have answered for you (not doing something for you, but a question that they could answer), what would it be?
A mentor to help initially navigate the VA system. I was fortunate because I was able to start my VA disability claim while in Germany. This allowed me to get a jump-start on the process, and I worked with a doctor who really helped me out. However, I didn’t know what else needed to be done, so when I returned to the States, I had a more difficult time navigating the ‘next steps.’ Having to line up primary care was very difficult. Looking back, the VA system seems pretty clear. However, I didn’t know a lot at the time.
I also found out about the VA’s Vet Center, which provides counseling services on an outpatient basis. This proved to be very helpful to me during my transition.
- What would you like to see “out there” that doesn’t exist, but if it did, it would solve a big problem for you, and other people like you?
Mid to late career counseling about retirement, the VA system, and future careers. I’d like to see information available to people earlier in their careers. For example, the 10-year point might be a good place for people looking to make a 20-year career to start learning so they can make appropriate decisions.
- What person has helped you through your military career and/or transition the most?
Myself both negatively and positively. I learned in the second half of my career to look out better for my own interests and somewhat to get out of my own way. I was appreciative of several high ranking officers that specifically told me to contact them if I needed anything.
The VA doctor who helped me with my claim while still in Germany was a huge help. There was a lot about the VA system that I didn’t understand at the time. I earned a 30% rating which is a significant threshold in the VA system. This allows the VA to pay for my travel to medical appointments. Also, I’m entitled to extended care, as opposed to treatment directly related to my claim. In Illinois, having a 30% rating allows for reduced property taxes.
- Do you want to be contacted by people who think you might be able to help them? If so, how do people get in touch with you?
Yes. People can reach me at: [email protected]
I hope you liked this article as much as I appreciated talking with Rorik and learning from his experience. If you would like me to interview you for an upcoming article, please send me an email or PM me at the Military In Transition Facebook Group!