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 Value of Veterans

Vets thrive in their post-military careers at companies that know their value, and actively recruit and retain their talents long-term.
Veterans are regarded as highly attractive talent pool for organizations today. They’re well-trained and are hungry to positive contribute to their organization’s success. And they know the value of hard work and teamwork.
In fact, veterans are so in demand that the unemployment rate for veterans fell to just 3.2% in December 2018, compared to 3.8% for the non-veteran workforce. What’s more, the most recent Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) report shows that number falling to less than 3% in March 2019.
Each of the companies in this feature knows the value of veterans, and actively recruits and retains their talents. The four veterans featured here also share what makes their companies great and how to achieve the same type of success they’ve built in the civilian workforce.
Jimenez Positively Impacts the Lives of U.S. Bank Customers
Jose Jimenez wants to help U.S. Bank customers achieve their financial goals. As an assistant vice president and branch manager, Jimenez is responsible for the day-to-day operations of his U.S. Bank retail location in Napierville, IL.
“Depending on the day, this can mean anything from helping a small business owner fund their next project to running a teller drawer and helping customers process their daily transactions,” he says. “No two days are ever the same - one of my favorite things about my job.”
Jimenez says he stumbled upon retail banking via a recommendation from a friend. “I was working as a mortgage officer at the time, and the industry was experiencing one of its slower periods,” he recalls.
“Since my entrance to the industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work, learn and grow my professional skill set at four different banking institutions. Working on the retail side affords me the opportunity to meet and learn about people - what their goals are and how I can help them achieve them. This varies from small business customers looking to fund an increase to their cash flow to an individual looking to buy a new car or a couple planning for retirement. The highlight of each day is seeing how I can positively impact the lives of others.”
With U.S. Bank for seven years, Jimenez was drawn to the company for its culture, values and its emphasis on people.
“Culture and values at U.S. Bank are very interwoven,” he says. “I appreciate the fact that U.S. Bank’s senior leadership places a high standard on integrity and doing the right thing.”
In fact, U.S. Bank has been on Ethisphere Institute’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies since 2015.
As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he also values U.S. Bank’s emphasis on the veteran community; U.S. Bank has a Proud to Serve business resource group (BRG) dedicated to veteran employees and employees that want to support the veteran community. U.S. Bank focuses on hiring veterans, and regularly donates time and money to veteran causes.
He also appreciates how U.S. Bank believes in leadership, a trait that gives Jimenez the chance to run his branch like a small business.
To succeed in the civilian workforce, Jimenez advises to not let your military service define you.
“I’m extremely proud of my military service and the fact that I’m the first veteran in my family; that being said, I didn’t want service in the military to be my only achievement. Veterans working in the civilian realm should leverage their military experience and expertise as a stepping stone toward the next phase in their lives,” he shares.
Success also comes from leveraging and optimizing many of the same skills learned in the military.
“Skills such as teamwork, communication, planning, problem-solving, and leadership - all skills learned while in the military - are required for several positions in a retail banking environment,” notes Jimenez.
“These skills are valuable in any industry, and veterans should consider themselves fortunate in having a solid foundation as they evolve in their careers. Lastly, as they transition out of the military, veterans should remember to stay nimble and flexible as they look for the right career fit.”
Find career opportunities with Minneapolis, MN-headquartered U.S. Bank at usbank.com/careers, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Glassdoor.
Haskamp’s Experience Supports His Project Management Work at Viasat
Adrian Haskamp has parlayed his military experience into helping guide corporate initiatives for Viasat, a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected.
“I work on a broad set of various large-scale projects, to include mergers and acquisitions, establishing international offices and a variety of corporate security initiatives that protect Viasat’s personnel, assets, and brand equity,” says Haskamp, a senior project manager with the company. “I work through the business continuum, starting with problem-solving through project completion.”
Lately, he explains, this includes helping with Viasat’s international expansion, evaluating new markets and supporting the planning efforts for market access - specifically, a service launch throughout Latin America.
“The company doesn’t keep you in one swim lane,” the senior project manager points out.
For instance, he worked on the acquisition of a company in Cheltenham, England, which closed in June 2018. “My participation was two-fold,” explains Haskamp, a 20-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I helped with due diligence where we reviewed key areas, risks, [and] opportunities, and provided an assessment of go, no-go, to help with the final decision. Once we decided we were going to acquire the company, there was a ton of activity with the post-acquisition integration that’s extremely complex.”
That included working with other leads and checking off the integration items, day by day, that needed to be completed to absorb the company and get it operational.
Project management allows Haskamp to draw on his military experience in terms of creative problem-solving, as well as dealing with ambiguity and cross-functional leadership.
“There are definitely transferrable skills,” he says. But to further support his post-military career, Haskamp went to graduate school to obtain his MBA.
“I really needed that,” he says. “I needed to understand how to add value and maintain a competitive advantage in all skill sets, concepts and strategies. [Getting an MBA] helped me get to a better position to do this job on day one.”
With Viasat for four years, Haskamp approached his career search “almost like a military operation.” He researched companies in his area (San Diego, CA), studied how his key strengths and core values matched companies, met people for coffee, and more. And, through it all, he kept coming back to Viasat.
“Viasat’s culture allows me to thrive in a proactive manner,” indicates Haskamp. “I can be innovative and drive my career forward. I’m encouraged to implement new ideas and creatively solve problems….You have limitless potential here, and you have a voice. Here, the best idea wins.”
He adds: “The talent acquisition team is very good at attracting, hiring and retaining, bringing in the best and the brightest. The people here are easy to work with, caring, smart and very enjoyable to work with across the company.”
Haskamp advises others to approach the post-transition job search much like he did, focusing on three items: education, experience and evaluation.
“For the veteran base, you have the GI Bill. You could get a job, but going to school will be the best opportunity for you. Education is key for your long-term trajectory of career success.”
About gaining experience, as a veteran, particularly a veteran with a family, an internship or job shadowing may be difficult, but “it will help you experiment and narrow down your choices,” maintains Haskamp. “Go out and explore options. Don’t settle. Find the best fit for you.”
Finally, he advises, evaluate opportunities from a holistic perspective.
“Don’t just look at the compensation. There are other facets - the commute, the opportunity to grow laterally or vertically, the culture, work-life balance - that will help you make sure you’ve found something that’s a good match, a good fit. When you find it, go with it.”
Find career opportunities at Carlsbad-CA-headquartered Viasat at careers.viasat.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Garcia Keeps Data on the Move Worldwide for Oracle Clients
Anthony Garcia’s work helps keep data moving. Garcia is a production operations manager for Oracle Cloud’s data-transfer service, which enables Oracle customers to send large amounts of critical data, anywhere from 20 terabytes to 1 petabyte, which is then rapidly uploaded to the Oracle Cloud.
While Garcia supports the service in a number of ways, he primarily leads the development of all data-transfer service sites globally, including the recent build and launch of a site in Frankfurt, Germany.
“This site will handle customer requests across the EU,” he explains. “This involved months of planning and coordination with our team based in Frankfurt. This was my first project outside of the U.S. The time-zone difference and adjusting for local work-council laws were new to me.”
With Oracle since May 2017, Garcia was drawn to the company for the chance to work on a global data center.
“When I came to an Oracle informational session, my hiring manager told me they were going to be building a data-center space globally and fast. I’ve always wanted to be on a global data-center program, and this was it.”
Based in Seattle, WA, Garcia, a U.S. Army Infantry veteran, talks with teams in London, U.K., and Frankfurt by 9 a.m. each day, and. by the end of the day, he’s communicated with teams across the U.S.
“I love that my job allows me to see different parts of the world. The challenge is trying to stay on track when you’re operating in five different time zones and counting,” he points out.
He particularly appreciates how Oracle listens to its employees: “I’ve never worked at a large corporation before, and I’ve been surprised by how quickly they have responded to employee feedback from messaging systems to extended parental leave time.”
To be successful in your career search, Garcia recommends focusing on two things: meeting people and continuous learning.
First, “stop applying to jobs online,” says Garcia. “You have to meet people.”
Secondly, he asks, if your job is suddenly gone, what’s your plan?
“Never get complacent. Get used to a life of continuous learning, learning more about your role, industry, and the business your company is in, and, most importantly, what your options are.”
Specifically for veterans, Garcia advises bringing the accountability and consistency you had in the military to your job: “Start to meet people, meet people from other teams, learn from them, ask them what they do, [and] start learning how the rest of your organization works.”
For veterans transitioning out of the military and seeking a career in tech, Garcia highly recommends Oracle’s Veteran Intern Program, a 12-week, paid contractor role.
“You’re placed on a team in Oracle to fill a role and hit the ground running,” details Garcia. “This could be in software development, data-center operations, or various program management teams. Oracle assigns you a mentor to meet with weekly. Each mentor is a veteran within Oracle. You’ll get constant career guidance and details on the hiring process from the recruiting team.”
Learn more about Oracle’s Veteran Intern program at oracle.com/corporate/careers/diversity/veterans-programs. Find additional career opportunities at oracle.com/corporate/careers, and connect with the Redwood Shores, CA-headquartered company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Apodaca Called Back to Serve at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center in NM
Long-drawn to public service, Victor J. Apodaca is fulfilling his calling as the facilities campus manager for the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC) at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM.
Apodaca joined the U.S. Navy at age 18, and, after five years in the Navy, he left the military and worked for private industry for more than 20 years.
“However, I always wanted to be a civil servant, so 12 years ago, I left private industry and I got a job first with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and then the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a project manager.”
In his current position for three years, Apodaca was drawn to the scope of work at AFNWC, including the chance to work on a $24 million military construction project for a new, 90,000-square-foot building, which was completed in 2017.
“I started my current position three years ago and was drawn to the scope of the work…plus the opportunity to support a military mission again, which gave me another opportunity to serve my country, but this time as an Air Force civilian,” says Apodaca.
Aside from being called to public service, Apodaca was drawn to the field as he likes construction and equipment, and facilities/project management covers both. He also calls himself a “green thinker,” and working in facilities management allows him to do his part to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint by optimizing the sustainment of facilities.
Specific to AFNWC, he appreciates working with other professionals and the opportunity to contribute to an important mission.
“What we do at AFNWC is very important to the nation’s nuclear deterrence and security, and I like that I’m part of the effort,” he says. “Our workers ensure our nation’s most powerful weapons are never doubted and always feared, and contributing to the AFNWC mission through facilities management is very rewarding.”
For career success, Apodaca advises taking a holistic view of what you want to achieve. In Apodaca’s case, that meant beginning as an electrical/electronic technician in the Navy and private industry, then putting himself through college and later achieving a master’s degree in engineering management.
“Formal education is great, but remember experience is invaluable,” he points out. “Every position you have will give you experience, both positive and negative. Keep your head up and put your experience and education to work!”
Specifically for military members approaching their transition, Apodaca recommends taking advantage of obtaining a formal education while in military, and one year before leaving the military, talk to a military counselor.
“Ask the counselor what your options are and how your military position translates to the private industry,” he advises.
“Use your military training to transfer to college credits whenever possible. I transferred my military training and received 40 college credits toward my bachelor’s degree. In 1991, when I was hired by Intel Corporation, they informed me that Navy veterans were their number one hire for technicians. Veterans bring the education, experience and discipline that all corporations need.”
Find information about and careers with AFNWC - which is part of Randolph Air Force Base, TX-headquartered Air Force Civilian Service (AFCS) - by visiting afciviliancareers.com/acquisitions/acq-nuclear.php and afciviliancareers.com. Follow #ItsACivlianThing, and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Vet Stat
In March 2019, the veteran unemployment rate was 2.9%, down from 4.1% in March 2018. This represents the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the month of March since 2000.
Source: Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), dol.gov/vets/Latest-Numbers
Vet Intel
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 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector, compared to about 1 in 5 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
2019 & Veteran Unemployment: It’s Not Just the Number
A 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) report indicated that veteran unemployment hit an all-time low of 3.8%. This shouldn’t be surprising. For almost a decade many of America’s employers and veteran service organizations stepped forward with the mission to hire transitioning servicemembers, veterans and their families.
It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing for business as studies show that 59% of employers reported that veterans perform “better than” or “much better than” their non-veteran peers. And experience, perseverance and leadership top the list of desirable qualities that employers find attractive in veterans.
But, as we celebrate this achievement, we need to be wary of inaccurate assumptions, and we need to continue focusing our efforts on veteran employment.
The unemployment rate is certainly one indicator, but it alone is insufficient in addressing our warriors’ career interests, opportunities and challenges. The number is derived from a questionnaire BLS sends out. However, the question is not specific in nature. Meaning a veteran could work a full-time job, or it could mean they only work 10 hours a week, or are a reservist and don’t have a civilian career. Finally, not counted are those who have just given up in trying to find work.
We need a more meaningful way to measure veteran unemployment. This will provide a better picture of veterans who may need help transitioning from military to civilian life or feel unfilled in their current role. For example, a 2016 Hiring Our Heroes study found that 44% of veterans leave their first post-military job within the first year.
Part of the explanation is simple: veterans are not feeling fulfilled in their careers or workplace, and are working in a position below their skill level. Reports, callofdutyendowment.org/content/dam/atvi/callofduty/code/pdf/ZipCODE_Vet_Report_FINAL.pdf, indicate that 15.6% of veterans are more likely to be underemployed than civilians.
Businesses have the power to change these statistics. As a starting point, organizations can:
Consider joining the U.S. Chamber Hiring Our Heroes team, hiringourheroes.org, and its nationwide effort to connect veterans, service members and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities.
Join the Veterans Jobs Mission, veteranjobsmission.com, and get to know their employer resources to develop employment start-up guides and mentorship frameworks, all necessary to leverage veteran talent.
Organizations like Hire Heroes USA, hireheroesusa.org, work to transform military service into civilian successes through personalized career preparation alongside resources for interested employers.
Corporations also need to have a mature veteran hiring process, which includes onboarding and retention. To help mitigate misunderstandings and biases that may occur in the workforce, companies can do a better job of leveraging veteran talent through employee resource groups (ERGs). Businesses should also consider implementing mentorship programs that help veterans understand the importance of establishing their value and “professional brand,” while also supporting and maintaining their team focus.
The unemployment number of 3.8% is a result of the commitment of our nation to our veterans, and the acknowledgement of the tremendous leadership and skill sets they provide. This number should be celebrated, but our mission is not complete. Sustainment should now be the focus with our sights set on meaningful career pathways for veterans and their families. When we fully leverage their continued leadership, we all benefit.
– Colonel Matthew F. Amidon, USMCR
Source: George W. Bush Institute blog
About the Author: Colonel Amidon, USMCR is the director of the military service initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. Colonel Amidon leads the day-to-day efforts of the military service initiative, and the team leading its policy and programmatic work on veteran transition. He’s served in both active duty and reserve capacities since 1994. As an AV-8B Harrier pilot, he deployed in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, at the operational and staff level. In his current reserve capacity he serves as the Deputy Group Commander, Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX. He was recently appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the Creating Options for Veterans' Expedited Recovery (COVER) Commission.
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