On May 8-9, the Department of the Navy hosted its 8th Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring & Support Summit at the Washington Navy Yard. This year’s event, which attracted more than 150 wounded, ill, and injured service member and veteran job seekers, and 45 companies looking to hire, took a broad perspective on what it means to build a post-military career.
In years past, the summit dedicated day one to educating employers about the lifecycle of wounded warrior care, and including critical roles of recruiting, hiring, and ongoing professional development. “[Leadership said] after eight years, I think the communities we go to get it, employers understand why we should hire veterans,” said Janna Roberts, Veteran & Wounded Warrior Recruitment Program Manager, U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command, who has staffed the summit four years running. “That’s why this year the event is focused on hiring.”
Service members and veterans spent day one gearing up for the interview process, through an intensive, career preparatory boot camp. Participating service members and veterans heard from a couple of organizations heavily invested in active duty-to-civilian employment efforts, including Operation Warfighter, a Department of Defense internship program that matches qualified wounded, ill, and injured service members with non-funded federal internships – valuable work experience aiding their recovery and rehabilitation experiences.
Next, participants launched into full preparation mode, from discussing what it means to work in the public sector versus private, to engaging in mock job interviews, to crafting their best resumes – all before lunch. In the afternoon, participants worked through their elevator speeches, learned some do’s and don’ts of networking, and discussed how best to leverage resources such as LinkedIn to market their personal brand.
Nervous, is how Gunnery Sergeant Jasmine Colon-Monge, U.S. Marine Corps, described herself before heading into her mock interview. “Today has taught me the importance of networking and having multiple resumes. I learned how to market myself.” GySgt. Colon-Monge and many other fellow service members and veterans arrived on interview day inspired and more confident heading into their pre-scheduled and on-the-spot conversations with participating employers representing the public and private sectors.
“When they arrive on day two of the event they seem more relaxed and prepared,” said Caitlin Williams, of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Events Coordinator & Public Affairs Liaison. “They have a sense of hope when they leave here because there is so much networking going on at this event. They are receiving business cards and real contact information; they’re not just being asked to visit a website.”
Discovering actionable ways to help wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans pave a steady career path is a commitment the Department of Defense takes seriously.
For more information on the Education & Employment Initiative and other Warrior Care Policy programs and resources visit www.warriorcare.mil