By Christina Wood
Former Air Force Capt. Dennis Orr is not your typical entrepreneur.
He was 80 years old when he and a partner launched Training Employment Solutions Inc. The Colorado-based company offers integrated training and employment solutions for individuals facing barriers to employment, and for companies and organizations looking to hire diverse talent.
Orr, a Life Member of MOAA, said he finds particular satisfaction in helping people who have been “overlooked” — including those on the autism spectrum — find gainful employment.
Orr’s specialty is working with the Birkman Method, an assessment tool that measures various personality traits to provide insights on how a given individual might interact in a team setting.
“I got certified in January of 1992 to be a Birkman consultant,” Orr said. “I got to work with Roger Birkman, who, by the way, was a B-17 pilot in World War II.”
In fact, Birkman developed what he originally called the Test of Social Comprehension to help understand why pilots reacted differently when operating under the same conditions.
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Orr served as a combat crew navigator-bombardier in B-52s in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Cold War/Vietnam era. He said his experience in the military taught him how to get things done.
“I learned that I could accomplish what I set out to do, because I overcame those artificial barriers I set up for myself,” he said.
Helping others — including those in the military and veterans’ community — after his service to the nation was one of the things he set out to do.
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Orr served as president of MOAA’s Mile High (Colo.) Chapter as well as president of the United Veterans Coalition of Colorado, a nonprofit whose mission is to work with and elected and appointed officials to ensure support for veteran issues and concerns and to inform and educate Colorado citizens about the needs of veterans and active duty servicemembers and their families.
He also values the opportunity to make a difference through Training Employment Solutions.
“We’re helping people,” he said. “Dealing with government agencies, it’s no fun, but we are providing something that’s really important to help people who have been overlooked for many years.”
And he has no plans on stopping anytime soon. “If you retire, you die,” Orr said. “I’m happy to still have a real purpose and to be doing things that make a difference.”
Christina Wood is a military culture writer.