In Houston, Goodwill® Builds Bridges between Veterans and Employers

Posted March 18, 2013

By: GII Veterans and Military Families National Program Manager, James Lander ,and GII Vested in Veterans Program Manager, Ruth Ifill

In many communities, Goodwill® agencies serve as an essential bridge between veterans seeking careers and employers seeking to engage the talent pool of veterans who will provide value added to their bottom line. Throughout the enterprise, strategic community partnership meetings are taking place to leverage best practices and lessons learned, and streamline the deployment to employment process for veterans and military families.

In late February, Goodwill convened 25 employers and veteran service organizations in Houston to attend a community partnership meeting. The meeting focused on implementing effective transitional support for veterans and military families, focusing on the employment challenges veterans face and how to educate civilian employers about the value they bring to the workforce.

Goodwill Industries of Houston kicked off the meeting by sharing Goodwill’s mission and the dynamic services provided to thousands of veterans.  Attendees heard profound stories from three veterans who participated in Operation: GoodJobs, a program funded by the Walmart Foundation.

One veteran, Army Reservist and Afghanistan Veteran Angela Hall, looked directly into the crowd of representatives from various businesses as she expressed her desire to secure a career in logistics. She worked in the supply and logistics field while on active duty and was sure that, when given the opportunity to perform, she would exceed expectations. She felt her greatest challenge was translating her military experience into language more common to civilian employers. Angela also expressed hesitation in disclosing her current service in the Army Reserves for fear that hiring managers would be apprehensive to offer her a position with their firms.

Equipped with the insight from Angela’s and other veterans’ stories, employers split into working groups to review case scenarios of actual employment challenges of veterans currently served by Operation: GoodJobs. Each group was tasked with refining and improving the employment process at all stages from the time an individual separates from the military to the time they receive a civilian job offer.

Employers and organizations used their expertise to recommend services to aide in veterans’ civilian transition and provide job leads and employment avenues. When the collective reconvened, each group shared their recommendations and solutions. Employers and service organizations were able to gain a clearer understanding of the challenges unique to this population and the barriers they face as they seek to transition into career-sustaining opportunities.

Goodwill is committed to expanding our outreach efforts with community partners to optimally leverage resources and services for veterans and their families. Gainful employment and education promise to provide economic stability and bridge the social divide that exists between military and civilian communities — a key component during the drastic life change veterans and their families experience when separating from the military.