Gina M. Garcia, 42, CEO, Trikaroo; CEO, Traveling Buddha Productions Little-known fact about you: I was abducted by a stranger from the Fashion Square Mall at age 8 and jumped out of a moving car to save my own life, which I have made a movie about to help others dealing with the issues of childhood sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. More information at www.untoldthefilm.com
Gina M. Garcia, 42, CEO, Trikaroo; and CEO, Traveling Buddha Productions, is one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2015 Veterans of Influence who will be recognized at a Sept. 30 awards luncheon.
Here, she tells a bit about how serving in the military made her into the woman she is today:
Branch of military served in: U.S. Navy
Why did you join the military? To take care of my dad. He had congestive heart failure and I needed means to take care of him financially.
What were your first impressions of your military unit? This is one interesting bunch.
Highest rank achieved: Petty Officer third class
How military service shaped your career and the way you do business today? There is no “put it all off till tomorrow.” You work hard, you work late and you just get it done.
Most important lesson you learned in the military? Stand up for your shipmates.
Best thing about being in the military? The camaraderie
Worst thing about being in the military? My father died while serving.
How you transitioned into a civilian career? It was a very easy transition.
Biggest challenges facing veterans? Post-traumatic stress disorder and not seeking proper health care to deal with the issues.
What your firm and/or you have done to help veterans? I wrote, directed and produced a film called Untold, which is about a female veteran's PTSD support group that helps a young woman veteran deal with the transgression of her youth, which is based on my personal story of dealing with PTSD from my abduction as a child by a stranger. I was able to recruit many Hollywood actors such as Terri Ivens from All my Children, Carlos Gomez of Ride Along 2, Debra Wilson of Mad T.V. and even civil rights attorney Gloria Allred made her acting debut playing a veteran who lost her arm as a nurse in the Vietnam War.
Advice you give to veterans? You can do anything as long as you work on yourself first.
Favorite place you were stationed? Yorktown, Va.
What role veterans play in developing Central Florida’s economy? We run both small and large businesses that are creating jobs and changing the landscape of our community.
Qualities that make veterans great job candidates? A strong work ethic and not afraid of getting our hands dirty.
What should be done to help veterans with business ownership and job creation? Opportunities for grants and financing to create new business.
To find out more about the 2015 Veterans of Influence, see the Sept. 25, 2015, weekly edition of OBJ.