MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January 2017, more than 500,000 people in the United States experienced homelessness on a daily basis, with nearly seven percent of those individuals being veterans. This can be a harsh reality for service members who might undervalue the opportunities available before transitioning out of the armed forces, especially for those who were injured during their time on active duty and may encounter rejection from employers because of their limitations.
“Being here in the San Diego area, you see younger Marines and older Marines who have gotten out, didn’t have a transition plan, and are now living under a bridge or on the sidewalk,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Pride, section leader, 1st platoon, Alpha Company, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. “We tell the Marines [at WWBn-W] that, ‘It’s not hard for that to be you.’”
Service members with WWBn-W, attended the Department of Defense Hiring Heroes Networking with Industry event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 11. The event is held annually to provide transitioning service members an opportunity to speak with employers from agencies across the country to aid in their shift into the civilian workforce.
“These events are great ways for Marines to network, learn about companies and meet some of the recruiters and employers,” said Karen Hannah, the associate director of Strategic Recruitment and manager of the Hiring Heroes Program. “The employers coming to these events really know the type of individuals they will be hiring for their positions and they are eager to hire them. Sometimes they can be interviewed and given a job on the spot.”
The event held at WWBn-W offered recovering service members a smaller, informal career fair to provide a more intimate, one-on-one experience with employers. After the smaller event, the attendees were able to attend a larger career fair held the following day to speak with employers they met or to seek additional opportunities.
Employers from federal agencies including Defense Contract Management Agency, Naval Sea Systems Command and Army Corps of Engineers, as well as private sector companies including California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, American Legion and JB Hunt provided insight into their respective companies to interested service members during the event.
“We bring employers together who all have a passion for hiring our veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses,” said Hannah. “They know the great skills [service members and spouses] can bring to the table: the tenacity to get the work done, dedication to duty, selfless service and teamwork – just an all-around awesome person to select for a position for any company or agency.”
Attendees received information about a wide range of positions within many career fields including medical, logistics, transportation, administration, engineering, security, law enforcement and many more. Additionally, they were informed of the requirements for the positions.
“If they need help looking for a job, we are going to be there for them, link them up with great employers and help them transition to a new career,” said Hannah. “These are some great men and women who can offer a great deal to companies around the country and across the world.”