Resources to Help Military Service Members Make Successful Transitions to the Civilian Workforce
by Larry Woods
With all the media attention on our military service members and their concerted efforts in the war and rebuilding/stabilization in Iraq, now is a good time for career development professionals to familiarize themselves with the resources available to help service members make a successful transition from military to civilian life.
Some of these service members were within days of transitioning to civilian life when they were pulled up short by "stop loss" orders, and will need to complete their transition upon returning to the United States. They will not be given much time to get things in order, so it is important that CDFs and career counselors provide targeted assistance to help them accurately assess their skills and the labor market.
In the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshop at Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station, marines, sailors, and their family are introduced to a variety of agencies, places, and tools to assist them in their transition to civilian life. Some of the resources listed below may be familiar to CDF's and career counselors others will add to your repertoire of tools to be used with transitioning service members.
1. Veteran Employment and Training Service A division of the Federal Department of Labor, VETS' mission is to provide veterans with resources and services in employment opportunities, protection of employment rights, and meeting the labor market demand with qualified veterans. There is a VETS representative in each state's labor department. Use this site to better understand veteran preference laws, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment/Reemployment Rights Act) law and regulations, Federal Contractor programs, and homeless veteran links. http://www.dol.gov/vets
2. Veteran's Administration The most valuable portal of all for veterans. Counselors should visit this site to develop a broad knowledge of issues, such as health benefits and services, compensation and benefits, home loan guaranty service, education benefits, burial and memorials, life insurance programs, and vocational rehabilitation (Voc Rehab). http://www.va.gov
3. Transition Service Centers These centers located on military installations where 500 or more service members are assigned. They may be called family services, personal services, transition support services, or career resources centers. They provide a staff and resources, libraries, computers, workshops, and job fairs to assist the service member in transition. Service members may continue to use these services for 90 days after they have been separated or in the case of a retired person for the rest of their life.
4. State Job Service This is the resource where veterans can make contact with a Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) or a Disabled Veteran Outreach Specialist (DVOS) who is governed by Public Law 107-288 to provide intensive services to veterans seeking employment or assistance. These veterans provide a wealth of information from local employment opportunities, educational resources, health programs, VA programs, assistance in obtaining benefits, referrals to VSO's, and help in navigating the perplexing world of work. Too make contact with your state job service agent you may use http://www.naswa.org, once at the site, use the navigation bar to click on "links" and use the chart to find a state specific agent.
5. Veteran Service Organizations. VSO's are located in the community and as such are a recognized link into the civilian community where the service member wishes to find employment. Encourage the service member to seek out a VSO within the community begin establishing a network and becoming an active member of the community There are many VSO, but the big four include:
-Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). http://www.vfw.org
-Disabled American Veterans (DAV). http://www.dav.org
-American Veterans (AmVets). http://www.amvets.org
-American Legion (Legion). http://www.legion.org
6.Libraries. Too many service members purchase outdated books or subscribe to magazines or other media that contain inaccurate information. The first, and the most over looked resource at the library is the library's reference librarian. Encourage the service member to ask the reference librarian for help in locating current career planning and labor market information.
7. Internet. Caution military service members who may be inexperienced in research and anxious to find employment quickly about Internet scams. Monster.com and CNN recently published a cautionary warning advising job seekers to watch out for job bulletin boards, resume sites and recruiters who asks for your name, date of birth, and social security number. Some are even brazen enough to ask for a credit card number! The four sites listed below are useful starting points in working with military service members.
-Labor Market Information: America's Career InfoNet provides trends in wages and employment, career resource library on-line, occupational requirements for education, license, and certificates state-by-state. http://www.acinet.org/acinet
-Occupational Information: The O'Net (Occupational Information Network) provides a comprehensive database of worker attributes, job characteristics, knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA), interests, general work activities (GWA), and work context of over 14,000 occupations. http://online.onetcenter.org
-The Career Key: This is a wonderful site developed by Lawrence K. Jones, Ph.D., and NCC et al from North Carolina State University. This site offers a free interest survey based on John Holland's Theory of Career Choices, search job strategies, education resources, and much more. http://www.careerkey.org/english
-Fortune 500: Service members have been exposed to many different skills, and many are not sure where their skills my best be utilized in the civilian work force. At this site you can match your skills to available occupations within industries of interest. http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fortune500
Larry Woods is a retired U.S. Marine Corps First Sergeant. Since transitioning to the civilian workforce in 1998, he has earned a B.S. in psychology and is a Certified Labor Employment Specialist, Certified TAP Facilitator, and a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator. Larry works as a Disabled Veteran Employment Consultant for the NC Employment Security Commission and is one of two primary TAP facilitators for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River. Contact information: call (910) 347-2121 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com