Many of my friends and family who know me know that I support our troops 100%. I won’t get into the politics of it all, but I did find an employer network that promotes jobs for wounded veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.
As our veterans are returning from the Middle East, many of them are wounded – physically, emotionally, or both. Some wounds are more visible than others. Many of these veterans are returning to civilian life with little to no work experience outside of their military service, so things that you and I are accustomed to, such as working on computers all day, isn’t something they may know how to do fluently. This makes transitioning even more difficult. The Network of Champions is a networking organization that stemmed from the need to place returning veterans into civilian jobs.
The Network of Champions program has over 100 companies in their network to send resumes to looking for potential employment opportunities. The companies in this program receive a list (along with resumes) of veterans seeking civilian employment on a bimonthly basis and are expected to give these veterans every opportunity to prove themselves; however, these companies are not expected to give priority to veterans (although, the government can require so if it so chooses).
In addition, and under the same organization, Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Career Transition) is a program that has been created to assist severely wounded veterans in this career transition by providing specialized, one-on-one service to identify job opportunities and assist with the on-boarding process. There are specific criteria for a veteran to meet in order to be accepted into this program, such as a disability rating of 30% or higher, or another type of injury that requires ongoing hospitalization or medical treatment (i.e. PTSD, severe burns, loss of limb, blindness, traumatic brain injury, etc).
Here is a touching story from one veteran who is paying it forward thanks to the help he received through the Goodwill, as written in the article Employer Network Promotes Jobs for Wounded Veterans, by Steve Bates:
Veteran Provided Foothold Pays It Forward
Jason Siglar returned home from a four-year stint in the Army in late 2006, believing that he was ready to work in the private sector. “I thought I was okay,” he told SHRM Online. But he was suffering from depression and a drinking problem that he developed while serving his country.
He worked in a factory in Iowa, then in an oil industry job on the Gulf Coast. But he felt unfulfilled. He returned home to Iowa, but he couldn’t escape his problems. His marriage broke up. He became homeless. “My life fell apart.”
In the spring of 2011, while shopping for clothes in a Goodwill store, he heard a commercial for the organization’s veteran employment program. Goodwill offers 12 hours of work a week to any homeless veteran. Within a few days, Siglar was being trained at a Goodwill store in Clinton, Iowa. As part of the program, he was required to look for a better job. The Goodwill program staff gave him help with his resume and job hunting skills.
“They made my resume look good. They highlighted the skills and qualifications I had to offer,” he recalled.
More than that, they gave him hope.
“I was more confident” almost immediately, he said.
His performance led to a regular position at the store in Clinton. And, within a year, he was promoted to a job in which he trains new hires with special needs. “I’m able to train people who are overcoming obstacles like I did,” stated Siglar, who is 28. “Most days I feel like I am learning more than I am teaching. I’m learning life lessons from persons who stay motivated despite the barriers they face.”
Added Siglar: “It feels great.”
While we are still far from where we should be in getting our military veterans quickly transitioned into new civilian jobs, we are a far cry from where we started a few years ago where there was no help for our veterans to find employment, to help with the on-boarding process, or to help severely disabled veterans find employment.
Do you know a veteran in need of services to find employment – disabled or otherwise? Please feel free to refer them to the Network of Champions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-395-2361.
Or, if you believe your company would be interested in participating in the Network of Champions, please send an email to email@example.com.