By Allison Rachesky
There are currently more than 21 million veterans of the armed forces residing in the United States. With all of the attention, debate, and politicking that precede Americas military decisions, often times, the consequences of these decisions on our citizenry are overlooked. V.E.T.S., short for Vocations, Education, and Training for Service Members, is a program that leverages skills that veterans have with the intent of helping them return to the work force.
Finding work after returning home from the battlefield has not been easy andV.E.T.S. is currently focused on hiring post-9/11 veterans.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June 2013, 160,000 of these service-members were unemployed, representing an unemployment rate of 7.2%.
V.E.T.S., a program started by Karen Ross, CEO of technology consulting firm, Sharp Decisions, based in New York, offers five to six weeks of intensive classroom and hands-on training, during which the veterans are paid to participate. A key strategy that V.E.T.S. insists on is deploying veterans into the workforce in groups.
According to Ross, It is important to keep veterans as a group because they are deployed as a squad in combat and feed off and depend on each other. If veterans have PTSD or any other symptom they will need other veterans nearby they can relate to. Veterans pull for each other and work toward a mission, which is critical for success of any project.
Alex Weis concluded his five-year tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011. Though Weis figured his bachelors degree in accounting would make his transition back into the labor force easier, he became frustrated when he did not receive any offers.
I wasnt getting any callbacks so I decided to go back to school and get my masters, Weis said. Afterward I started applying again and still had very limited feedback. It was really frustrating. I thought I had a pretty good educational background, but thought that maybe more experience was necessary because I don't know if my job in the military translated well into the civilian sector.
Weis then joined V.E.T.S. as part of its inaugural class of 16 veterans, training to become Quality Assurance Software Testers. After completing six weeks of training, Weis earned an assignment with EmblemHealth as part of a Quality Assurance Testing team.
V.E.T.S. hopes to have 200 veterans enrolled by next year. Ross believes that veterans are primed to take full advantage of any career opportunities they receive. Veterans as employees are amazing. They differ from new employees because they have life experiences that the young civilian workers can't understand. Their process, discipline, loyalty, commitment, authority, chain of command, articulation, experience, and teamwork are not something we see in today's workforce. These skills plus their experience in a technologically advanced military make them exemplary candidates with translatable skills in the workforce.
Finally, Ross explains it is her duty to help these patriots. Young women and men voluntarily risk their lives to give Americans the freedom that we all enjoy. I believe it is my responsibility as an American to give these Veterans an opportunity for a meaningful career
Allison Rachesky is a former FOX News Channel intern. Ms. Rachesky is currently a junior at Harvard University where she is studying Government with a secondary in Classics.