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Wounded Warriors Find Sure Career Footing
The discipline and stamina of U.S. veterans both allow them to find sure career footing in the civilian workforce, and make them stellar employees at companies with a solid global presence.
When veterans return home, reunite with family and friends, and enter the job force, it’s an emotional time. Thankfully, there are resources out there to help these veterans find jobs back on U.S. soil.
There are also many private- and public-sector organizations that know veterans possess a determination to succeed, a special “spark” that inspires and motivates companies to grow and innovate.
As Colonel Dan Friend, former senior Army fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management points out, military vets make for solid team players, perform well under pressure, can multitask and follow directions, and aim to accomplish their career, educational, and job goals. Additionally, veterans can handle feedback and are very open to new ideas.
“In adapting to the military life, service members learn early on to set aside their personal interests for the greater good of the team,” says Friend in a blog post for the school.
As such, many companies know the value of vets’ skills, and want to bring them and their armed forces acumen into their business fold. This is evidenced by the annual veteran unemployment rate that declined to 3.5% in 2018, which is the lowest level since 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The wounded warriors featured on the following pages also exemplify how veterans can leverage their military expertise and find sure footing in the civilian sector.
Dominguez Creates a Well-Defined Plan for Nationwide
Ohio native Jason Dominguez’s grandfather was in the Marine Corps Infantry.
“He served as a marksmanship instructor during the Korean War,” recalls Dominguez. “I grew up with the desire to serve my country, and always saw myself joining the Marines someday.”
He served in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years, later earning a Bachelor of Arts in economics from The Ohio State University and an MBA from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.
Currently employed at Nationwide’s Columbus, OH location as senior consultant, business program management, Dominguez has been with the company for six years.
“In my current role I get to work on aligning and executing the strategy of our business,” he explains. “This requires the coordinated effort of many people, and the need to build strong coalitions around a well-defined plan.”
Most of all he must identify the shared value that exists in different areas of the business “to make sure different teams are working toward the same goals, which include, scaling our retail mutual funds business by building client-focused relationships with new advisors in new channels.”
According to Dominguez, higher education is a “great buffer zone” between the military and civilian life, especially since the post-9/11 generation has so many benefits available to us, “you would almost be crazy not to use them.”
However, he stresses, there are also other options. “Some people may find that their time was better spent pursuing a skilled trade or certification at a community college or union. I know plumbers who make more money than I do, and some of them have turned their trade into a business where they’re their own boss with others working for them.”
If you do go to college, advises Dominguez, then do it for you and no one else. “I loved the general education credit classes that I took. Yeah, sure, I may never use what I learned in my western civilizations class in corporate America, but I have a better understanding of the world because of it.”
His degree in economics gave him the foundation that he needed as a congressional staffer, a job he held before Nationwide, and ultimately as a leader in the asset management industry.
“Whatever you choose to focus on, do it for you and because you have a genuine interest in it,” he encourages.
He currently works work with veterans who are transitioning to civilian life, as well as non-veterans who are seeking to grow past their current roles.
“Many people follow their passion,” he tells others, “but they aren’t good at how they’ve followed their passion. Learn to play off your strengths. For example, I could love football, but maybe I wasn’t built to be a player. Maybe I would be better as a trainer, or coach! Ultimately, if we’re met with failure because we’re going against our natural strengths, talents and abilities, then it’ll be hard to find true satisfaction in what we do.”
Serving in the military has allowed Dominguez to grow in many ways as a leader and personally. “One of the greatest things I benefited from was having to live and work with a diverse group of people from all walks of life who have different backgrounds and beliefs.”
As a leader, he says the military taught him “what it meant to be accountable and to truly work as an effective team while preferring the group’s needs above my own. In today’s world and through social media, we can often live our days thinking that everything is about us. It isn’t, it never has been, and never will be.”
Dominguez was fortunate to have not sustained any physical injuries while in the military; however, like most combat veterans, he’s dealt with the challenges that post-traumatic stress can bring to life as a civilian.
“But, honestly, it’s not all bad. Because of my experience in combat, I’m wired to function in an environment that requires me to adapt and overcome. However, at the same time, I must be mindful of the need to slow down and not treat everything like a crisis. It’s important to make sure you are not always in combat mode and just going through the motions of life.”
He adds: “Practicing mindfulness has helped me to make sure I’m present in the moment, and I’m examining how what I’m feeling may or may not be real.”
For career opportunities at Nationwide, which is headquartered in Columbus, OH, visit nationwide.com/about-us/careers.jsp to view available positions. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr.
Harris Flies the Friendly Skies for American Airlines
To simply say Lieutenant Colonel Jason O. Harris is from a military family is an understatement.
His grandfather served in the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. Many of his uncles served in the military, and his mother joined the U.S. Army when Harris was in the first grade.
“She chose to join the Army as they didn’t require her, a single mom at the time, to give up full custody of her three boys,” the now international qualified Airbus 320 pilot, first officer for American Airlines shares.
Growing up, his mother would say to him: “If you’re going to join the military, then join the U.S. Air Force. If you’re going to go in the military, then make sure you become an officer!”
Following in his family’s footsteps, he followed her advice, joined the Air Force (USAF), and was commissioned from the Air Force Academy in 2001.
“My joining the Air Force was merely a byproduct of getting an education. I knew, from all that I’d been told growing up in poverty, that if I wanted a chance to change the outcome of my life, and have a chance to not live in poverty, then education was a key element,” explains the lieutenant colonel, who is originally from East Oakland, CA and currently based in Colorado Springs, CO, not too far from Dallas/Fort Worth, TX airport, the major hub for American Airlines.
“Ultimately, joining the military was a natural first choice on the path toward success for me,” he continues.
“It became easy to choose the Air Force over the Army when I began to learn about the technical opportunities - the opportunities to live and work in more office-like environments. In my mind, based on what I’d seen growing up, I didn’t want to be working outside, in the elements. I wanted an opportunity to work in an office environment, and the opportunity to utilize my brains over any brawn that I totally did not have!”
He separated from active duty service in March 2013, and earned the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in social sciences, the aforementioned Air Force Academy, MBA in International Business (2008), Master of Science in logistics and supply chain management (2017).
More than five years ago, he was hired as a pilot for American Airlines. “I’d flown airplanes my entire career, and it seemed like a natural transition to begin pursuing opportunities to fly commercially.”
During his transition period and prior to separation from active-duty service, he “hit every job fair out there for pilots. I even entertained taking jobs that didn’t include flying. It was during this time I made sure my logbooks, resumes and applications were all up to speed. I hired someone to input my logbooks into a format suitable for an airline interview. I hired two different companies to help me prepare for an airline interview. I paid to attend conferences and job fairs, all in the hopes of landing my dream job at an airline.”
He adds: “I coined all of this time and fees as paying the ‘pilot tax’ to land your dream job, and the last job interview you would ever have!”
And now he gets to “fall in love with something different” about each city each time he visits, but he doesn’t have a favorite city to visit when flying the friendly skies.
“This outlook allows me to always have something exciting to look forward to on my travels. Without this attitude, my job could become mundane quite quickly, and I’d forget how to really appreciate the beauty in what I get to do for a living. I get paid to travel the world, experience culture, food and wine. How much better could living get than that?”
When he’s not flying, the USAF veteran mentors youth via a special program called Legacy Flight Academy.
“I’ve sustained trauma and various injuries throughout my career, and during my 11 combat deployments and 2,000-plus combat hours,” he further shares. “I’ve received physical therapy treatment for my back, I’ve had a blood clot while on duty, plus other injuries.”
He thinks it’s “the injuries that we can’t see, such as mental trauma, commonly referred to as ‘Post Traumatic Stress,’ that are having a major impact on veterans like myself. I’ve begun to seek opportunities to get help in the form of working out, yoga classes and even professional counseling. I think more veterans are beginning to discover we’re not alone, and getting help is actually a significant sign of strength!”
Explore open positions online at jobs.aa.com. Connect with American Airlines via social media on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The company is based in Fort Worth, TX.
Boorda Maintains Raytheon’s Quality of Products
“Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, nowhere near the ocean, choosing a career in the U.S. Navy doesn’t seem like an obvious choice,” laughs Brenda Boorda, vice president, mission assurance, Raytheon space and airborne systems and RAYVETS global president.
“However, my father served in the Navy for four years aboard diesel submarines. He always talked fondly about his adventures in the Navy, keeping us mesmerized as young children. So when I graduated from college during a period of recession and job scarcity, I decided to join the Navy - following in his footsteps.”
At Raytheon Boorda has the chance “to touch all of our products before they’re sent to the warfighter. We ensure every system works right the first time, every time, and as vice president of mission assurance, I play a large role in maintaining the high quality nature of products that work to keep us safe.”
She takes great pride in supporting her fellow shipmates in their critical missions at home and abroad. “Additionally, my team of dedicated, diverse employees makes coming to work every day an absolute pleasure,” she adds.
According to Boorda, in the military, your exact role and job function are assigned to you via specific orders.
“However, once in the civilian world, finding the next job is entirely up to the individual. My main advice to veterans seeking employment is to develop a strong professional network. Many times in the civilian world, your next job offer will be based on whom you know in a company or specific business sector. Networking is so important and veterans should start making connections, via LinkedIn or through networking events, nine to 12 months in advance of leaving the military,” she advises.
She also believes young veterans should research and become well-versed in the variety of the jobs in which they’re interested. “It’s important to adapt your resume for the role for which you’re applying, which sometimes means creating multiple resumes.”
Many professions don’t require a college degree, Boorda points out, adding: “And I know college isn’t the right fit for everyone. However, pursuing a degree while in the military puts veterans in a good position when they leave the service. Some companies, like Raytheon, allow employees to further their education while working. I recommend looking into this option, and researching companies that provide academic support if you want to pursue your degree.”
And, she recommends, if you do go to college, then seek organizations on campus such as Student Veterans of America. “Affiliating with others who have shared experiences and goals is a great development experience, and will help ease the warfighter to civilian transition,” she says.
Boorda currently mentors and sponsors both veterans and non-veterans: “In some cases, Raytheon employees reach out to me to be their mentor, and I provide career and personal guidance on a regular basis. I also work to engage people who I feel have the ability to do more professionally, but who are unaware of their potential or unsure how to proceed with their next career move. In support of this, I participate in face-to-face and virtual mentoring through Raytheon’s partnership with American Corporate Partners (ACP) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE).”
Boorda, who works in the Dallas, TX area, shares that she does have a disability from the service that limits her physically. “Nerve damage in my right shoulder mainly from poor work ergonomics, as well as a knee injury as a result of physical training when I was in the Navy,” she details.
She has accommodations in her workspace that provide her with a pain-free environment. “I openly discuss my limitations with my team, so they’re aware. It’s extremely important to support our warfighters’ transition back to civilian life - whether it be through career opportunities, providing physical therapy and rehabilitation services, or organizing groups where veterans can discuss their experiences.”
She adds: “All veteran wounds, both physical and mental, must be addressed to ensure continued success and growth in the military community.”
While serving in the Navy, Boorda was able to travel the world and experience other countries and cultures, broadening her appreciation for travel and the intricate workings of human society.
“The Navy also gave me the opportunity to lead diverse teams and attend school. The Navy paid for two master’s degrees - computer science and strategy - both of which have helped me excel in my post-military career,” she points out.
Boorda would also recommend the Navy as a career option for those who are “looking to develop leadership and technical skill sets - as well as for those who seek camaraderie, and are looking to build a strong network of peers, mentors, and friends.”
The corporate base for Raytheon is Waltham, MA. Check open positions at Raytheon by visiting jobs.raytheon.com. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Mendoza Makes a Difference in People’s Lives at Combined Insurance
Given his family’s history, Marcos Mendoza always knew he would serve his country like much of the rest of his family has.
“My family has deep military roots. In fact, in my family, we represent almost every branch of service in the U.S. military, starting with both of my grandfathers who both served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War,” shares Mendoza.
“I just didn’t know in what capacity [I’d serve]. My dream was to be a federal law enforcement officer; once I found out that drug interdiction was one of the main responsibilities of the U.S. Coast Guard, I could hardly wait to join,” he recalls.
Today Mendoza is a sales education trainer for Combined Insurance in the Chicago, IL area, specifically based in Round Lake, IL. He’s responsible for preparing and facilitating training sessions for Combined’s new agents and front-line management staff in a classroom setting. Facilitation includes demonstrating a comprehensive sales approach by reviewing the sales life cycle and product lines.
According to Mendoza, one of the hardest things to get used to when transitioning into civilian life is finding about what you are passionate.
“For me, one thing I always loved about going to work every day in the Coast Guard was knowing when I got off duty, I made a difference is someone’s life. That’s the exact feeling I have every Friday when my students graduate from the one-week sales school training at Combined Insurance. I know I’ve given my students the best opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their family,” he elaborates.
His advice for veterans seeking employment is “to simply find your passion and what it is that you enjoy doing. Realize that no matter what job that you interview for, no matter the industry, no matter who the other applicants are, you have experience and abilities that no one else has - know your worth. Much like the military, when transitioning to civilian life, you may start at the bottom, but if you work hard, then opportunities will open and allow you the career you deserve.”
One of the greatest benefits that comes with being a member of the armed services, explains Mendoza, are “the educational opportunities that are afforded to us. That being said, I encourage every veteran to utilize the Post-9/11 or GI bill in any way possible. For some people college is scary, myself included, but once I attended my first class after I got out of the military, I fell in love with it. One thing I didn’t realize until I got into college was that all of the discipline, hard work and critical thinking that makes people who serve successful is exactly what will make you a successful student.”
Mendoza sustained several injuries while in the USCG, both mentally and physically.
“I’m a wounded warrior, and have been since 2011. I began to experience grand mal seizures in 2008 from repeated traumatic brain injury (TBI), and I was medically discharged in January 2011. Along with my seizures, I experienced depression, anxiety and PTSD. Through it all, I still go through seizures, anxiety and depression at times, but knowing I’m not the only one suffering from these symptoms helps me every day. I continue therapy, speaking with psychologist on a regular basis through the VA, along with medical treatment for my seizures, as well.”
Staying positive, he adds: “Everything I have in my life is because of the opportunities my service to this country has provided me. I recognize I have a life-changing disability that will affect me for the rest of my life, but if you were to ask me if I’d do it over again, then I’d respond with, ‘Without a doubt.’”
The Coast Guard also gave him chances “to travel to places I never thought I’d see, I made the best friends in the world who are like my brothers, and, most importantly, I was able to accomplish something no one in my family had ever done,” he concludes.
View available sales jobs at Combined Insurance, a Chubb company based in Chicago, IL, at combinedinsurance.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
In May 2019, the veteran unemployment rate was 2.7%, down from 3.4% in May 2018. This represents the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the month of May since 2000.
Source: Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), dol.gov/vets/Latest-Numbers
• The annual veteran unemployment rate declined to 3.5% in 2018, which is the lowest level since 2000.
• The jobless rate for all veterans fell to an 18-year low of 3.5% in 2018, from its peak at 9.9% in 2011.
• Unemployment for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 dropped from 4.5% in 2017 to 3.5% in 2018, which is the lowest rate recorded since U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began collecting the data in 2008.
• The unemployment rate for woman veterans fell to 3% in 2018.
• Among the 326,000 unemployed veterans in 2018, nearly 60% were age 45 and older; 35% were ages 25 to 44, and 6% were ages 18 to 24.
• As of August 2018 about one in three employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector, compared to about one in five veterans with no disability.
• The unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging from 1.4% in Iowa to 6.5% in the District of Columbia.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Employment Situation of Veterans 2018
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