By: Terri Moon Cronk, American Forces Press Service
Every day is Veterans Day in the federal sector’s quest to help former servicemen and women find employment, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said yesterday during an event to honor to the nation’s military veterans.
At the department’s annual veterans’ recognition, Perez said federal agencies working together have made significant strides in helping veterans find jobs, but work remains to be done.
“We’ve come a long way, but we can always do better,” he said of adding and expanding programs and other efforts to help veterans gain employment, such as the Defense Department’s recently enhanced Transition Assistance Program, which enables service members to begin making career connections a year before they leave active duty.
Citing significant emphasis on veterans’ employment programs from the White House and the departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs, Perez said it’s critical for the federal sector to become an employment model for veterans.
“We’re all in this together,” he said.
The nation’s employers have said they seek employees who are good workers, come in on time, and demonstrate leadership, responsibility and loyalty.
“That is the description of a veteran,” Perez pointed out.
His sentiments were echoed in a subsequent panel discussion conducted by veterans and other officials, who offered advice to job-seeking veterans.
Separating from the military combined with a lengthy civilian job search became a downward spiral that was difficult to escape for panelist and 2011 Medal of Honor recipient Dakota L. Meyer, now a Marine Corps reservist who also travels the country to listen to the concerns of fellow veterans.
“There aren’t too many jobs out there for snipers,” he said of his military occupational specialty, eliciting laughter from the audience. “[But] veterans bring so many skills to the table, companies need to realize that.”
When Meyer speaks to veterans and family members who are looking for jobs, he often hears that their biggest concern is lack of information about how to find work, he said.
Eric Eversole, panelist and a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and executive director of Hiring Our Heroes, a chamber foundation program, said each year for the next five years, about 300,000 service members will transition from the military back into the civilian sector looking for work.
“They’re good for business,” he said of hiring veterans, adding that family members also have good job skills.
“Do your intelligence work on what a company wants,” Eversole, a Navy reservist, suggested to job-hunting veterans. “Prepare for [the interview].”
Working with veterans to help them find work has rewards, Eversole said.
“It gives them the confidence to go for the interview and knock it out of the park,” he said. “No other group is more appreciative than veterans and military spouses.”
Jose Serans, another panelist and veteran, said job seekers should keep an open mind about prospective employment.
“You might find something [new] you’re good at,” Serans said. Landing a leadership position can follow after learning new skills, he advised.
While there may seem to be differences in how the military system operates compared with the private sector, , the differences are actually small, Meyer said.
“The military is no different than a corporation,” he said. “To deploy, we build a whole city. [Service members] are flexible.”