Levi Rodgers was a 21-year-old soldier when he set his mind to buy a double-wide trailer near Fort Bragg – it had a hot tub, after all.

But Gary Langdon, his real estate agent, sat the young soldier down, tore up the contract for the trailer and gave him 30 seconds of advice. He advised him to buy a fixer upper a little further away — with blue carpet, no less — that ultimately set him on a path not only to a successful real estate career, but a chance to help other servicemen and women find meaningful and lucrative work.

“He helped me make a proper decision,” said Rodgers. “It took me 12 years to realize how that man coached me and it changed the direction of my whole life.

“His 30 seconds of honesty turned things around.”

Rodgers was recently named the director of Keller Williams Military, a new initiative aimed at providing tools, training and camaraderie to veterans and their family members. The goal of the national initiative is to help veterans and their families pursue real estate careers and transition out of military life into the civilian workforce.

In addition, Rodgers said KW Military will leverage its KW School of Real Estate to help veterans and family members navigate the pre-licensing procedures that are required to kick off their careers as real estate agents.

“It’s a true honor and a privilege to announce Levi Rodgers as our director of KW Military,” said Carl Liebert, CEO of kwx, the holding company of KW. “A decorated veteran and proven real estate business leader, Levi has a deep-seated passion for providing the highest levels of customer service for active, reserve, and veteran military service members and their families. “Since my first interaction with Levi, I’ve been deeply inspired by his service, his sacrifice and his commitment to serving military families.”

Rodgers, 44, enlisted in the Army in 1996. He retired as a Green Beret in the 7th Special Forces Group, serving in South America, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2009, he was serving as the commander of a Special Forces team in Afghanistan when his vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device. He woke up in a hospital bed in Texas with most of his bones broken and 3rd-degree burns over 40% of his body.

“I was pretty messed up,” he said. “It was a two-year recovery. I lost three of my men that day, under my direction. It’s a weight I still carry to this day.”

He took a medical retirement and, like so many retired service men and women, had no idea initially how to reenter civilian life or find a civilian career. He struggled with job applications and making new connections. As his savings declined, Rodgers decided to sell his home in North Carolina.

And that advice to skip buying a trailer? It paid off. Rodgers said he made a decent amount of money on the sale of the home and, emboldened by his past experiences in real estate and Langdon’s advice, decided to get his agent’s license and start selling homes.

“You have to take emotion out and put logic in,” Rodgers said. “Gary helped me do that. And I will forever be grateful.”

That pay-it-forward attitude is what he hopes to carry into his directorship at KW Military. He said that service members should adopt a mindset for transitioning out of military life at the start of their enlistment — not later — so they can begin planning their exit strategy for a more informed and attainable transition into the job market.

“My team at Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group has already been doing a lot of this, but obviously not on this scale. Not only do I want to do this, but I feel I have an obligation to do this,” Rodgers said. “I want to change lives. I want to take care of people and help them win in life.”

He has a proven track record of success. The Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group in San Antonio, Texas has more than $940 million in annual sales volume. And more than half of his team members are former military or have family members in the military.

“The toughest thing our military faces right now is the transition to civilian life,” Rodgers said. “And I have a responsibility to give back and help. Real estate changed my life. It’s changed others’ lives. We have to prepare our transitioning service members for life after the uniform.”

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