Hiring Our Heroes: Becomming More Vet Friendly

By KBJR News 1

February 28, 2013 Updated Mar 5, 2013 at 9:45 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- For many military members moving into civilian life, the transition to a new battleground in the job market is overwhelming.

Experts say vets are coming back with skills that transfer into the civilian workforce.

And businesses are hiring them, now more than ever before.

Our American heroes receive high level training to risk their lives and fight for our country.

"The military training is some of the best training that you can receive," Ben Vanderscheuren, a Veteran’s Employment Representative with the Minnesota Workforce Center in Duluth said.

Many of the skills veterans learn may be called something different, but are transferable to civilian jobs.

"Up in the Northland here, I think the employers are willing to hire vets if they are qualified and if they have job openings," Tom Casey, a Veteran’s Employment Representative with the Wisconsin Job Center in Superior said.

Experts say thousands of veterans are taking advantage of federal and state education packages, to become qualified for a new career.

"There are a lot of veterans going to school right now," Vanderscheuren said. "They are getting out, and education is key."

Northland universities are stepping up to help make the transition as seamless as possible from military to academic life.

About a year ago, the University of Wisconsin Superior opened it's Veteran and Non-Traditional Student Center.

“There is a need to provide programs and to help them translate that experience into civilian terms," Carl Huber, Student Services Coordinator said.

The center partners with other community workforce initiatives, and is essentially a one-stop-shop for non-traditional students.

Bradley Roy, an 8-year Air Force veteran, says the center has played a large role in his success.

"I was so used to having a center to handle a situation, and I knew where to go that I would be almost lost, that I wouldn't know what to do and who to talk to,” Roy said. “This gives an opportunity to talk to people that are in similar situations and that deal with people that are non-traditional on a daily basis."

Many vets, especially those who served after the Sept. 11 attacks, are returning to the workforce and can't really explain how their skills transfer to the private sector.

To help service people market themselves, workforce centers in Duluth and Superior offer special transition programs.

"Veterans get priority of service,” Vanderscheuren said. “They have first come, first served priority. Say a class is full, they always have a seat for a veteran. So they are never turned away."

Employers are also making themselves more veteran-friendly, by learning more about military life and how various skill sets can transfer into their organization.

"Beyond the Yello Ribbon ] will have classes,” Cindy Luoma, of the Jamar Company said. “They will get HR professionals from across the area to come and do mock interviews. That's how I've become more acquainted with military jargon."

More businesses than ever are now taking part in hiring programs to acclimate veterans.

"In an 18 month time frame, we actually bring a veteran from a teller and all the way to a branch manager,” Chris Hill, Director of Recruitment at U.S. Bank said. “So they get to see all the different areas on the retail side. We set them up for success."

"These are folks that have gone out to serve our country and allow us to do the things we do. They are a great resource for us,” Daniel Martinez, Vice President of Technical Services of AAR Aircraft Services.

The success of the various programs is apparent.

For example, 20 percent of AAR's workforce, or more than 1,000 employees, are veterans.

U.S. bank has made the commitment to hire 1,000 veterans by the end of 2013.

And 20 veterans in Superior and Duluth are employed through the Jamar Company and API Group.

Jennifer Walch
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