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Marine Credits USO/Hire Heroes USA for Kick-Starting Civilian Career

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

Christopher Veade was an infantryman. A grunt.

When an unexpected illness forced him to leave the military in 2011, he discovered the civilian workforce wasn’t looking for grunts.

“It needs security officers, logisticians, operations managers and team leaders,” he said at hiring event earlier this year in Springfield, Va. “But you see we’re talking about the same thing. You just have to be creative in how you describe your skill sets.”

When 27-year-old Veade began his transition out of the military, he was determined not to become one of the many unemployed veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He enrolled in a two-part USO/Hire Heroes USA program to improve his chances of landing a good job.

Part one of the process was a USO/Hire Heroes USA Transition Workshop where he learned how to better communicate his value by producing a sharp resume and polishing his interview skills. Part two was a USO/Hire Heroes USA Career Opportunity Day, where he was able to land an internship with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) through Operation Warfighter, a federal internship program for wounded, ill and injured troops.

The USO sponsors numerous USO/Hire Heroes USA Career Opportunity Days each year, including one that starts today in Camp Pendleton, Calif.

These Career Opportunity Days are unique because they are more intimate than a traditional job fair and allow prospective employers and wounded troops to have one-on-one conversations in a less-intimidating environment. Many of the employers are veterans themselves and can help explain the pitfalls of the transition process because they’ve gone through it.

Participants are provided prospective job openings in advance. Once at the Career Opportunity Day, they are matched specifically with employers in attendance for mock interviews.

“It was nice to have someone help me who was also in the military because they understood all the different hats I wore in the military,” Veade said. “They understand that I wasn’t just a squad leader. I was [also] a mentor, a manager, a coordinator and a facilitator.”

Veade’s federal internship with NCIS eased his transition into the civilian sector. From there, he was hired onto the human resources team at CACI, a government contractor. Coincidentally, part of his job today as a security investigator is to find and screen other potential candidates at the same USO/Hire Heroes USA Career Opportunity Days where he landed his internship.

“At Career Opportunity Days, 91 percent of attendees connect with employees that actually have open positions,” said Susan Thomas, Vice President of USO Warrior and Family Care. “Seeing veterans like [Veade] and employers fully engaged in a dialogue that involves more than a mere resume exchange is a very strong indication to me that the partnership is a tremendous success.”

To learn more about how you can help the USO educate, employ and reintegrate our wounded warriors, visit the USO Warrior and Family Care website.

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Photo caption: Christopher Veade, right, who once stood on the other side of the table in his uniform at USO/Hire Heroes Career Opportunity Days, is now a hiring manager at CACI. (Photo credit: Joseph Andrew Lee / USO) 

Shop USO Wishbook to donate funds that helps more troops and families enjoy the programs and services that the USO offers worldwide. 

Also, federal employees can help the USO fulfill its mission to support troops and their families through the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign. Please designate #11381. 

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