By MC3 Gabrielle Joyner, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Hiring Our Heroes” service member transition summit July 8-9 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“Hiring Our Heroes” is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities outside of military service.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Hiring our Heroes” transition summits are designed to educate recruiters and community leaders on the best practices in hiring and retaining military employees, while also helping service members and military spouses prepare for the civilian workforce.
“Each year, 3,000 people from Joint Base transition from the military and that does not include hundreds more family members,” said Capt. Stanley Keeve Jr., commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“So this summit addresses a significant quality of life issue for our service members and their families at a stressful time in their lives.”
The summit began with a forum, which included remarks by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor Thomas Perez and an informal networking reception that included a speed mentoring component for employers and jobseekers.
“We like to think of ourselves at the Department of Labor as match.com,” said Perez. “Our goal is to match job seekers with employers who want to grow their business. You make our job easier because you have so many assets.”
According to Perez, there are 5.4 million jobs opening up as we speak and assured the attending service members and families that their skills and expertise were coveted in the civilian sector.
“When I go and talk to employers and when we work with our partners at the Chamber of Commerce, what we hear is ‘give us more veterans!’” said Perez.
“Because you know what? You have game. Your skills, knowledge and experiences in the military are why you are so in demand,” he said.
Operations Specialist 3rd Class Wesley Scott, who is getting out of the Navy in one month, stated the meet and greet forum was helpful and informative for learning how to network and made him feel more comfortable with the transition process.
“The secretary’s speech stood out the most to me,” said Scott. “He was very open and very enthusiastic about how important our veterans are to the work-force and giving us that boost of confidence that we can do this and it’s not the end of the world to transition out.”
After the networking reception, a panel of subject matter experts, ranging from employers to recently retired military members and spouses, held a question-and-answer session.
A job fair took place after, where service members were greeted by more than 100 local and mainland employers participating in the event. On average, job fairs connect employers of every size and industry with more than 1,000 veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses directly on military installations in the U.S. and overseas.
Joe Wallace, the senior military engagement manager for Microsoft, said as a sponsor of the “Hiring our Heroes” summit at JBPHH, Microsoft is looking to bring the IT industry to service members as they transition and let them know there are great careers in technology.
“There are all of the intangibles that military members bring to the table such as leadership, discipline, mission focus and drive, plus they are very technical and that translates very well into opportunities at Microsoft,” Wallace said.
Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Johnathan Young commented the transition summit was a great first step and stressed the importance of going to job fairs.
“To not make use of a job fair would be like trying to utilize your thumb to hit a nail instead of a hammer,” said Young.
“Every time a job fair comes up, I push Sailors to attend, especially in transition and even way prior to that. Everybody should start their transition out of military on their first enlistment even if their intention is to stay in 20 years. They can make use of this information and build a wealth of knowledge,” he said.
Perez said a future for veterans is not only an important issue to not only the federal government, but for employers as well.
“Making sure you have a seamless transition from your service to the civilian sector is an all hands enterprise,” said Perez. “Because you have done so much for us, the least we can do is return the favor.”