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New Office Helps Veterans Turn Miltary Experience Into A Civilian Career

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans returning from deployment face a quickly-changing job market. Many have a difficult time explaining how their military experience has prepared them for the civilian work force. The unemployment rate for veterans is about 7-percent, on par with the national average.

The North Carolina National Guard Education and Employment Center helps guard members look for civilian jobs.

Manager and fellow veteran Austin Walther says they also help vets translate their military experience into civilian job skills.

“When we read a resume or we read someone's ERB or ORB, we understand and know what all the acronyms mean. There's no explanation needed, 'cause we all know and understand what it's taken to get there,” Walther said. “When civilians take a look at it, they just see a bunch of three- or four-letter words that really don't mean anything without that further explanation.

Each veteran is paired with an advisor who helps him or her write a civilian-friendly resume. Next month, the Employment Center will host a job fair and mock interviews.

Walther says it also reaches out to businesses to explain why guard members make good employees.

“The amount of leadership and the responsibility that's given to somebody at that level is extremely different (from), you know, a civilian counterpart. And so when they come into your office or they come into your corporation, they bring all that experience with them,” Walther says. “They're very well-versed in working with others.”

Walther says "veteran friendly" businesses are usually so pleased with their hires, they're happy to work around the schedules of active guardsmen and women.

The office opened this summer. Walther says 460 Guardsmen and -women have been served so far, and 207 of them have been hired by companies.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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