He Worked the Room and Found a Career




Veteran Adjusting School (VAS) is a vocational school in Sedona, Arizona, south of Flagstaff. It is licensed by the Arizona State Board of Education, and is the only technical school in the nation approved by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for training veterans to become independent catastrophic insurance claims adjusters under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The school was founded in 2012 by Guy Grand and Gary Pitts, both independent catastrophic insurance adjusters with more than 35 years of combined experience in the industry.

VAS conducts a six-week training program on its campus. The program is a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on field training. It consists of 230 classroom hours and more than 125 hours of additional training, ranging from mastery of the industry-wide Xactimate® software program to the claims-writing process.

Training culminates with a simulated three-day storm deployment, which tests all the skills learned throughout the program. Classes are small, with a ratio of no more than a four students to one instructor per course.

Fifteen – and growing – independent adjusting firms across the nation have partnered with VAS. The current job-placement rate for VAS graduates is 97 percent.

VAS believes that the soft skills instilled into the men and women of the armed forces make them exceptional candidates for VAS.

After VAS training – doing professional claims work – these traits would show up as:
- an ability to manage themselves without direct, daily supervision - an ability to manage multiple claims at one time and in a timely manner – ensuring that all claims are filed on time, every time
- honesty in representing both the homeowner and the insurance carrier – ensuring that all reports and findings are just and fair
- an ability to interact with the general public professionally and courteously
- ethical conduct in all phases of the claims process

Since receiving approval for VA funding, 65 percent of the school’s graduates have come from the armed forces and have proven to be excellent students and exceptional employees. Because of their success, VAS has been reaching out to the veteran community across the nation by participating in RecruitMilitary job fairs.


Michael D. Babb served in the United States Army for 21 years, retiring as a first sergeant. His main responsibilities were in transportation. He is now an independent catastrophic insurance adjuster and an instructor with VAS. He started with VAS in September 2015.

“I came into contact with Veteran Adjusting School at a RecruitMilitary job fair in Dallas in February of 2015,” he said. “I had spent my military career in transportation, but had decided on changing career paths as I transitioned into the civilian sector.” Insurance however, was not the field he expected to join. “I had not previously heard of VAS or the career of independent catastrophic insurance adjuster,” he said. “I had chosen to attend this RecruitMilitary job fair with the idea to pursue a completely different career path, and had little desire to attend school.”

“However, after speaking with Mr. David Gaian, outreach coordinator for VAS, and Mr. Guy Grand, managing director of the school, I thought that this may be just the new career path I was looking for. After doing my research and giving this career path additional thought, I applied for and was accepted into VAS for the June of 2015 class.”

Babb knows he made the right decision. “My decision has proven over and again to be one of the smartest career decisions I could have ever made in transitioning from the Army,” he said. “My skills in project management and many of the soft skills learned throughout my years of military service directly contributed to my success as a student attending VAS and my career as an independent catastrophic insurance adjuster.”

His good luck continued. “To compound my fortuitousness,” he said, “I was hired by VAS as an instructor at the campus in Arizona. So now I have my own career as an independent insurance adjuster, and I also teach, train, and mentor future crops of veterans as they, too, pursue their new careers as independent insurance adjusters.”

One of the things Babb likes best is that his job allows for a lot of flexibility. “As an independent insurance adjuster, you have the amazing opportunity to work for yourself as a contract employee to any number of independent adjusting firms across the nation, in whichever community you decide to reside across the country,” he said. “This is great for the transitioning veteran who is planning on returning home after service to our country.

“This, too, played a high part in my decision to attend school at VAS and transition to a career as an independent adjuster, since I could select my next destination after the Army without regard to job availability or location. It is a career in which you can literally work from anywhere in the country as long as you possess the willingness to ‘chase the storm’ during the storm season from March to November, typically every year.”

Babb encourages veterans to keep an open mind when considering post-military employment. “The biggest advice I would have for the transitioning veteran is to take full advantage of all the great resources we have at our fingertips as veterans, and to keep a broad perspective when looking for a new career post-military,” he said.

“Attend as many hiring events – such as the RecruitMilitary job fairs – as you can, and talk to any and all vendors there. You never know when you will find a new and exciting career path – one that you may never even have heard of before. If I had not worked the room at the Dallas career fair, would I have ever found VAS or my new career as an independent adjuster?”

This article appeared in the September-October 2016 issue of Search & Employ Magazine