Real Estate Careers for the Armed Forces (REC4AF) Launched by Cresa Washington DC to Mobilize the Commercial Real Estate Community and Help “Real Heroes with Real Needs”

Washington, D.C.– In response to significant employment challenges faced by veterans of the military, Cresa Washington DC recently formed Real Estate Careers for the Armed Forces (REC4AF) as a registered 501c3 charity. The mission of REC4AF is to mobilize the commercial real estate community in Greater Washington DC, Baltimore, Denver, CO, and beyond in training and hiring veterans and their families within the industry.

REC4AF is managed by Cresa’s new Armed Forces Practice Group (AFPG), co-founded by Cresa professionals Chris Crooks, Jeremy Melmed, and Winters Heafey; the growing group includes two military veterans from Cresa. REC4AF is also affiliated with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and the American Freedom Foundation (AFF).

Cresa Principal Crooks, founder of REC4AF, said, “We have launReal Estate Careers for the Armed Forces (REC4AF) Launched by
Cresa Washington DC to Mobilize the Commercial Real Estate Community
and Help “Real Heroes with Real Needs”
ched this initiative to bring together many disciplines in the commercial real estate community in support of a great, common cause. Our research shows that thousands of veterans confront significant challenges in transitioning from the military into the workforce. We have a unique opportunity to help real heroes with real needs—and the commercial real estate industry has the potential to provide thousands of jobs at all levels to veterans and their families.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 453,000 veterans were unemployed in the United States as of August 2016. The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 53% of all veterans have been out of work. Of particular concern is that veterans with service-related disabilities are more likely to be unemployed, and the more severe the disability, the higher the unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that in the District of Columbia, 7.7% of vets in the civilian labor force were unemployed in 2015, which is 2.3 percentage points over the national unemployment average of 5.3% for that year.

Crooks said REC4AF has met with many veterans, associations, veteran-owned companies, and companies that support the armed forces. REC4AF is targeting multiple sectors in the commercial real estate community, including architects, engineers, property managers, general contractors (electricians, plumbers, painters, IT, AV, etc.), security firms, furniture vendors, landlords, developers, and brokerage firms.

“There’s a pool of hundreds of organizations that recognize a void in the support for veterans and see this is a terrific opportunity,” he said. “We are partnering with many advisers in the public and private sectors and have found the reception to our plan to be overwhelmingly positive.”

He added that the property management sector can be a great partner for job training since skills in this area are transferable across the country, which can help spouses who frequently need to relocate.

Responding to Real Needs

Crooks said the process starts with awareness, educating corporate commercial real estate executives and veterans about needs and opportunities. REC4AF is building the infrastructure to address how the process will work. This includes:

  • Awareness, education, and information provided through REC4AF.
  • Training (including resume writing and interview skills) through partnering agencies.
  • Vetting of veterans’ qualification through a nonprofit management consulting group.
  • Job placement and mentoring through companies that hire veterans.

Cresa is planning to hire more REC4AF staff, including an executive director, as well as volunteers and form business partnerships as needed. It is also looking for fundraising opportunities through grants and other channels, and is reaching out to all sectors of the military in addition to the Army—the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

“The men and women who have served in the Armed Forces have made terrific sacrifices to protect our freedom,” said Crooks. “Many of them are struggling in their transition to the private sector, and it’s time that we acknowledge their courage and unmet needs, and take steps to find solutions.”

REC4AF is a member of AUSA, which has 500 member companies that Cresa is networking with. REC4AF is also working with AFF, which aims to better the lives of veterans and their families. From October 3-6, Cresa and REC4AF will be participating in AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Cresa has committed its support of REC4AF on a local and national level, with plans to expand its services.

“We know of no other commercial real estate practice group dedicated to meeting the considerable employment needs of the veterans as well as companies that serve the Armed Forces,” said Cresa CEO Jim Underhill, based in Cresa Washington DC. “We are proud to lead this initiative and are reaching out to our colleagues to join us. Some of us in the industry may be competitive, but this is a higher calling.”

“We encourage interested parties, including commercial real estate-related organizations, veterans, and potential volunteers and funders, to contact us at,” said Crooks.

Cresa has area offices in the District of Columbia; Baltimore, MD; Bethesda, MD; McLean, VA, with an office in Denver, CO, where Heafey is based.

About REC4AF and Cresa

REC4AF, based in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to mobilize the commercial real estate community in training and hiring veterans and their families within the industry. REC4AF is managed by the Armed Forces Practice Group of Cresa Washington DC.

Cresa is the world’s largest tenant-only commercial real estate firm. In representing tenants exclusively—no landlords, no developers—Cresa provides unbiased, conflict-free advice. Integrated services cover every aspect of a real estate transaction from site selection and financing to project management and relocation services. Cresa offers clients customized solutions with more than 60 offices in 75 markets worldwide. For more information, visit