Hosting veterans in career preparation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Laura L. Valentine
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Whether an Airmen is separating from the Air Force after only four years or a career of 20 years, they are required to attend pre-separation briefings to begin preparations for life in the civilian workforce.

Along with mandated separation briefings, Airmen, civilian employees and spouses are encouraged to enroll in the Transition Assistance Program through McConnell's Airman and Family Readiness Center .

TAP was established to meet the needs of separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services.

The comprehensive three-day workshops are run by professionally-trained workshop facilitators from the State Employment Services, military family support services, Department of Labor contractors or Veterans Employment and Training Services.
During McConnell's TAP, participants are also given a briefing by a member from the Society of Human Resources Management workforce readiness committee about their initiative, Host a Veteran in Business Day.

The local chapter of SHRM began working with the A&FRC three years ago on ways the organization could support veterans in their transition from the military to civilian work world.

Reinforcing what the facilitator has said, a SHRM representative who has hired and recruited and lives in the Wichita, Kan., community, will speak firsthand to these individuals, said Teresa Bengtson, SHRM Workforce Readiness Committee chairperson.

The committee soon found out that where the military member's nervousness came from was that they are not confident that their skills will fit with the civilian workforce, especially if they've been in the military for a long time. That is where the Host a Veteran program came from, said Bengtson.

Since January 2012, SHRM has worked with Wichita area businesses to create opportunities for military members to gain experience with the hiring processes of civilian companies.

"What we realized what would really be helpful is if you had a chance to practice interviewing and getting feedback from an actual company that would be looking for somebody with your skills," said Bengtson.

With four businesses currently participating, Cessna Aircraft Company, Arnold Group, Foley Equipment and Metal-Fab Inc., there have been 10 veterans to participate in the program.

A recent program participant who visited Cessna told Bengtson that he did not realize how much experience he was going to gain until he went through it.

"I don't think people realize how valuable it is to practice in a safe environment," said Bengtson. "They don't realize the value of practicing their interview skills until this experience."

During a company visit, participants will meet with a human resources representative, have a resume review and feedback session, a mock interview and immediate feedback and a tour of the facility.
The feedback is valuable information in the fact that participants can have a better understanding of what they've experienced. Then they can feed off of that information when they continue to look for jobs, said Dong Kim, A&FRC community readiness consultant.

Whatever the time frame for a member's separation, Kim recommends that as soon as an individual knows they are separating, they should call the A&FRC, even those who are going through an administrative process and might not know a definite period.

Future changes will make TAP a mandatory program and increase from three days to five to seven days in length.

"At some point in the military career, enlisted and officers, they are going to leave the Air Force one way or another," said Kim. "For them to transition easier, they need to get the information sooner."

For more information about pre-separation briefings and the Transition Assistance Program, call the A&FRC at (316) 759-6020.