During his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the issue of hiring veterans. James Wilburn is director of military programs for Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE). It's an issue near his heart after having served 22 years in the U.S. Army and working daily with transitioning military personnel in his role at GTPE.
As a veteran, I know personally that the president’s call to every CEO rings true: “if you want somebody who's going to get the job done, hire a veteran.” However, while veterans already have much of the training, skills, and experience to get the job done, I’ve seen firsthand the difficulties servicemen and women face when transitioning from the military to civilian life. From how a supervisor differs from a commanding officer to interviewing and creating a LinkedIn profile, veterans need guidance in navigating the nuances of the private sector.
GTPE saw this need reflected in Georgia’s high unemployment rate for veterans and launched the Veterans Education, Training and Transition Program (VET2) in 2013. A four-week program that assists veterans with entering the civilian workforce, VET2 is offered at no cost to service members. Working hand-in-hand with sponsor companies, the program places veterans in internships where they can learn the corporate culture of a potential employer and work toward a full-time offer of employment.
In the 2014 fiscal year, VET2 had a 100 percent job offer rate for veterans completing the program, 100 percent retention and experienced sponsorship engagement growth from 15 to 49 companies. GTPE is also partnering with non-profits like Workforce Opportunity Services to create customized work-study programs for companies like Hewlett-Packard and ADP.
As the president said, “as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend.” At Georgia Tech, we’re proud to serve our transitioning veterans who have done so much to serve us.
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