Nov 22, 2011
VIENNA, Va. — Recruiting wounded warriors is one of NAVAIR’s highest priorities, said NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. David Architzel at the Navy’s Second Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference in Vienna Nov. 9-10.
“If they want to work, we will find them a rewarding job,” he said. “It is more than a moral obligation; it’s our duty to them.”
NAVAIR senior leaders and hiring managers joined more than 800 other attendees from both the federal and private sectors to share best practices on how to recruit, hire, train and retain service-disabled veterans successfully. Hosted by the Naval Sea Systems Command, the conference, with a theme of “Hiring Our Nation’s Heroes,” also helped commemorate Warrior Care Month in November.
“It was very inspiring to see and hear all of the organizations that are doing their best to give our wounded warriors opportunities,” said Dan Nega, director of NAVAIR’s Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, and executive champion for NAVAIR’s Individuals with Disabilities Advocacy Team. “I believe that when you bring a wounded warrior on board, through whatever adversity they’ve been through, that person comes in and becomes a leading member of your team — their success inspires everyone else on the team.”
Tania Dawson, NAVAIR’s recruiting and retention program manager, said meeting the leaders from other organizations and commands makes the national wounded warrior program stronger and creates a more integrated approach to achieving the collective goal of hiring and supporting veterans.
In addition to networking, the conference also included more than 20 breakout sessions to discuss tools and resources on how to hire and support wounded warriors.
Nega served as a panel member for the “Successfully Hiring Wounded Warriors” breakout session, which highlighted the difficulties veterans experience while navigating the government personnel system.
Nega advises wounded warriors not to give up when applying for jobs. “The personnel system can be cumbersome, so they need to persevere,” he said. Taking advantage of every available opportunity once they are on board is the key to their success, he noted.
Wounded warriors should write their resumes as if they’re writing a book about their experiences in the service. This approach will help reveal details that illustrate their unique abilities and skills, Dawson said.
“Too often, I see wounded warriors struggling to elaborate on their skill sets when, in fact, they have many to offer beneath the shield of the combat zone that they may have come from,” she said, listing teamwork, leadership and dedication to duty as some examples.
Currently, more than 12,000 wounded service members are transitioning out of the military and may be looking for civilian employment. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, unemployment among veterans who have left the military within the last three years is nearly twice the national average.
NAVAIR is working to change that. In fiscal year 2011, the command hired 154 disabled veterans — a 23 percent increase from the previous year.
NAVAIR also offers several programs and resources for veterans. The Active Duty Intern Program, which trains wounded warriors to excel in entry-level positions as they exit their military careers, is available at all NAVAIR sites with partnerships across all services. NAVAIR also leads hiring in the Naval Acquisition Development Program for Wounded Warriors, a four-year developmental program with rotational assignments and mentoring.
“NAVAIR, like the rest of the Navy, is committed to ensuring that our wounded warriors have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military, look for a career and enter the civilian workforce,” Architzel said.
In the future, NAVAIR plans to continue establishing partnerships and expanding its outreach efforts, to develop on-the-job training programs for wounded warriors, and to offer formal training programs for hiring managers to help with the transition process.
“The type of support and infrastructure needed to properly recruit, train and retain wounded warriors will require NAVAIR to conduct more formal training for hiring managers and supervisors, as well as increase awareness across the entire workforce,” Dawson said. “This is something that truly takes command commitment, dedication and leadership support to be successful.”
Wounded warriors and NAVAIR supervisors and hiring managers are invited to attend a Wounded Warrior Career Day on Dec. 6 to meet wounded warriors and learn about resources to help support disabled veterans as they transition to the NAVAIR workforce. Ed Crenshaw, author of “The P.E.R.C.E.V.D Principles: Preparing Employers to Reintegrate Combat Exposed Veterans with Disabilities,” will provide tips on mentoring and available volunteer opportunities. The event will be held at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org; space is limited.