How to Help Veterans Transition to the Civilian Workforce

What are the priority issues your company needs to address?

Many companies have come to understand the benefits of veteran workers. However, hiring these workers remains a challenge to corporations, as many struggle to help veterans transition their field experience to corporate responsibilities.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2011 unemployment rate of young male veterans (ages 18–24) who served in the second Gulf War was high at 29.1 percent, compared with young male non-veterans at 17.6 percent. The overall 2011 unemployment rate of all workers was 8.9 percent.

The key to successfully transitioning veterans from military life to the civilian workforce: mentoring through both corporate programs and resource groups, said a DiversityInc panel of corporate and military experts in Veterans in the Workplace: How to Help Them Succeed.

Roundtable participants included:

  • David Casey, currently vice president for workforce strategies and chief diversity officer at CVS Caremark (formerly at WellPoint) and a former U.S. Marine
  • Susan Hamilton, assistant vice president, diversity, and chief diversity officer for CSX
  • Chris Collier, director, talent acquisition for Southern Company, formerly in the U.S. Army
  • Capt. Tony Barnes, director of operations, Navy Recruiting Command
  • Vice Admiral Gerry Hoewing (retired), president and CEO, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation*

*Could not be present for roundtable, answered questions in separate conversation with DiversityInc

Also present from DiversityInc were Luke Visconti, CEO and a former naval aviator, and Barbara Frankel, senior vice president and executive editor.

"In the military, we lead people and we manage resources and equipment. And that's not necessarily the vernacular used on the civilian side. We need to chill out and understand the corporate culture before aggressively taking charge," said Capt. Barnes.

He emphasized that many veterans prefer a structured, disciplined work environment and are disappointed when they go to certain companies.

Other factors such as pay and compensation, consistent on-boarding and training in management skills should also be taken into consideration. Providing assistance for post-traumatic stress disorder and other disorders is important too, as discussed by Merck & Co.'s Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Deborah Dagit at another DiversityInc event (watch the video below).

Read Veterans in the Workplace: How to Help Them Succeed for more insights and best practices on hiring and developing veterans.

Southern Company: Georgia Power Celebrates Earth Month

Company hosting employee volunteer events; Statewide PSA highlights importance of protecting Georgia's waterways.

NASA/REUTERS

Georgia Power (a division of Southern Company No. 44 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) is celebrating April as Earth Month with employees across the state engaged in environmental service projects throughout the month.

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Southern Company: Fresh Gulf Power Crew Heads for Puerto Rico as Another Team Returns

Since October, Southern Company has been steadily involved in restoration efforts.

Southern Company is No. 44 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list.

Gulf Power is sending another storm team to Puerto Rico to help restore electricity and rebuild the country's electrical infrastructure, six months after back-to-back hurricanes left most of the island in the dark and destroyed a majority of the energy grid.

The 10-member team, comprised of eight lineworkers and two support staff from across Gulf Power's service area, will replace a team that recently returned from more than 60 days on the island. This is the second team the energy company has sent since December, who typically spend 30-60 days helping restore power and a sense of normalcy to the people of Puerto Rico.

The team is scheduled to be in Puerto Rico for the next 30 days and will help rebuild the remaining part of the energy grid. While many of the members have been deployed restoring power after crippling snowstorms, thunderstorms and hurricanes, this will be a test of their skills and the ability to adapt to the conditions.

“While we're used to working in hot weather and humidity during the summer months here at home, the temperatures have been a lot cooler, so we will have to adjust our work schedules and habits," said Josh Rogers, who will lead the team and is the District Engineering supervisor in Panama City. “Along with the weather, the terrain is another safety concern. We're not used to mountainous terrain and the narrow roadways we'll encounter across the island. We just have to remember that along with restoring power, safety is our top priority."

The team from Gulf Power will join forces with other Southern Company crews and a workforce of nearly 3,700 restoration workers and support personnel, including industry mutual assistance crews, and will focus on restoring service to approximately 145,000 customers on the island.

Once they arrive, the team will be assigned to the Barranquitas District of the Caguas Region in the center of the island where the crews will be faced with mountainous conditions. The first Gulf Power team was assigned to the western region of Mayaguez, the same region that has been assigned to the Southern Company incident management team that arrived in December and where Southern Company's subsidiary, PowerSecure, continues to work.

With nearly 99 percent of customers in the Western region restored, this crew will move into areas where it's more difficult to gain access to the power infrastructure.

“Our main focus will be to get down there safely, work safely to rebuild the remaining infrastructure that is damaged in some of the hardest-to-reach areas, and get the team back home safely," said Rogers.

The restoration of the energy grid and getting power to residents is nearly complete. Just last week, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority announced that power had been restored to more than 90 percent of all customers across the island who were impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. According to PREPA, 35 of the island's 78 municipalities are 95 percent or more energized, while six municipalities have been restored completely.

While Gulf Power will send team members to help finish the remaining restoration, the Pensacola-based energy company has also played a vital role in power restoration not only at home in Florida after Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and Irma, but also assisting other crews after storms hit in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and New York, deploying nearly 40 times since 2008.

This isn't the first time many of this team's members have been deployed on storm restoration duty. Rogers, along with many of the other team members, have helped other Southern Company sister energy companies and municipalities across the Southeast during their time of need in restoring power.

But for Rogers, he knows it's important to help those who have been without the basic necessities of modern life, such as the ability to flip a switch and have the lights come on or turn the dial on the thermostat and get cool air from the air conditioner.

And he has his family's support.

“I have the best wife anyone could ask for," said Rogers. “She's the reason I can deploy so far away for so long. My daughters understand that dad is going to help turn the lights back on for people that have been without power since before Halloween."

PREPA enlisted the Mutual Assistance Network for aid in accelerating power restoration efforts following Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Edison Electric Institute manages the Mutual Assistance Network, whereby EEI member companies, including Southern Company, may receive and provide assistance in the form of personnel and equipment to aid in restoring power.

Since October, Southern Company has been steadily involved in restoration efforts, including damage assessment; clearing debris; resetting poles; mobilizing equipment; providing temporary emergency power; ensuring adequate generation at power plants; and reinstalling and repairing transmission and distribution lines.

Common Drug for PTSD Doesn't Stem Nightmares, Sleep Problems in Veterans

Experts in PTSD familiar with the research have been shocked by the findings.

(Reuters) — The blood pressure drug prazosin, widely prescribed to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has failed to show it can reduce distressing dreams or improve sleep quality in a trial of 304 military veterans at 13 Veterans Affairs medical centers.

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