A Toolkit for Vets

By John Koontz

Unemployment rates in the United States continue to remain high due to our struggling economy and are forecasted to remain as such in the foreseeable future.  Nowhere is this more evident than among the brave young men and women who have served their country since September 2001 (Post 9/11).  According to the recent report “Meeting the Needs of Veterans In Today’s Labor Force” , submitted on May 31, 2011, to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, “the unemployment rate for these veterans averaged 11.5 percent, compared to the overall veteran-unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, and 9.4 percent unemployment rate for non-veterans”.  Many factors may be contributing to the lack of success for Post 9/11 era veterans when searching for jobs.  In a recent article published on March 12, 2011 in the Boston Globe, “Concerns that National Guard and Reserve troops will be gone for long stretches and that veterans might have mental health issues or lack civilian work skills appear to be factors keeping the unemployment rate for the veterans at 20.9 percent.”  Another barrier veterans face in their transition from the military and the civilian work world is the ability to relate their military training, education and experience into terms civilian employers can understand and appreciate.  The chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Patty Murray, said veterans have told her they take their military experience off their resumes because they fear a potential employer will decide they are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and not hire them.  The Veterans Career Transition Management System© has been developed to address many of these issues.


A Toolkit for Vets
            The Veterans Career Transition Management System© (VetCTMS®), is a tool kit that can be utilized by transitioning military personnel and veterans to perform a proper job search in today’s economy.  The kit was developed by Colorow Publishing, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, in collaboration with local Veteran Employment Representatives in the Jefferson County Workforce Center. Dennis and Judy Orr, used the “kit” effectively through their outplacement business, successfully helping hundreds of people transition into new and fulfilling careers throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s.  The VetCTMS® includes a Veterans Career Transition Reference Manual, Telescript Platform, Daily Progress Sheets, and a Weekly Progress Summary that are provided both in paper form and an electronic format.  To put this into terms a veteran will appreciate, this system provides the transitioning warrior with a tangible tool to develop a battle plan in their personal war against unemployment.


The Battle Plan and Tools

            The Veteran’s Career Transition Reference Manual includes reference materials and activities used throughout the job search battle.  Many veterans who are transitioning out of the military do not understand how to perform a modern job search and lose most of the structure they have lived within the military lifestyle.  Most are not used to the lack of direction and the missing step-by-step process that are required to successfully gain placement in the civilian world.  If they are fortunate enough to go through a Transition Assistance Program as they leave the military, they are provided only basic instruction in writing resumes, filling out job applications, networking and interview strategies.  But as any seasoned Veterans Employment Representative will tell you, successfully completing a job search will require more than these few bare tools.  The Reference Manual will address these basic concepts, but also provide the missing structure, activities and steps needed in carrying out the battle plan creating short and long-term goals developed in concert with a trained professional Veteran’s Employment Representative.

            One of the first activities the veteran job seeker must accomplish is a personal and professional assessment.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this step outlined in the Manual.  Veterans may take advantage of any number of formal assessments offered through their local Workforce Center or an informal assessments instrument while working with their Veterans Representative.  The Daily Progress Report® provides a section to document assessment results completed by the veteran where they can be referenced at a later time.  The next step after completing the assessment is gathering data needed to develop a strong, targeted resume, preparing and practicing interview techniques and developing networking strategies.  The veteran will also be conducting informational interviews and start to reach out to prospective businesses they are interested in working for.  As the veteran job seeker successfully completes his goals, they are documented along with any relevant results on the Daily Progress Report® and can be referred to again and again as the veteran moves through the job search battle plan.  At the end of each week, the veteran job seeker can update their progress to the Progress Report to track all the successes they have achieved and keep them motivated to move on to the next week’s activities.


A Vet's Control in the Unemployment Battle
            The Veterans Career Transition Management System© is a tangible job search system that can be utilized by transitioning military members and veterans.  It is currently being utilized by Veteran Career Development Specialists in Colorado and is available through Colorow Publishing.   This valuable tool provides a Veterans Career Transition Reference Manual® with information and activities that can be used by both veterans and their Veteran Employment Representatives.  It provides structure, puts the job search squarely on the veteran’s shoulders and back in control of their destiny in winning the battle against unemployment.


Meeting the Needs of Veterans in Today’s Labor Force, Report by The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Chairman’s Staff, Senator Bob Casey, Chairman, May 31, 2011.

Unemployment high among young veterans, Associated Press, Boston Globe, March 12, 2011,





John KoontzJohn C. Koontz, a service-connected disabled veteran of the United States Air Force, currently works for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as a Veterans Career Development Specialist / Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist in Golden, Colorado.  He was recently awarded the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) certification and has over 8 years of experience working with a wide range of transitioning military personnel and veterans, assisting them with all aspects of the job search process.  He is active  in a variety of Veterans Service Organizations and his local community demonstrating a passion for assisting his fellow veterans as they move from the military to the civilian world. You may contact John at jkoontz@jeffco.us or via telephone at 303.408.2671

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