CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Corps’ mission is to make Marines, win battles and develop quality citizens, but unfortunately many service members struggle when it is their time to return to the civilian world.
According to the Labor Department reports, 203,000 post 9/11 veterans were unemployed in February. Hiring our Heroes held a job fair at the Pacific Views Event Center here Sept.19 in an attempt to decrease that number.
“We do such a great job of transitioning civilians into the military, but we’re not at the point to where we are doing a great job at transitioning service members back to civilians,” said Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient. “We are trying to bridge that gap and help veterans get back in.”
Veterans need to be more proactive in order to be valuable to employers, according to Meyer.
“In the military we are not taught to brag about ourselves, we are given an opportunity and we perform. On the civilian side it is different,” said Meyer. “You have to convince someone to give you an opportunity, you have to market yourself and sell yourself before you can perform. Practicing and training to get a job in the civilian world is just as important as training for combat.”
What many veterans do not realize is they already have the basic tools that employers are looking for.
“For our company, we look for people who have a lot of the qualities that service members bring to the table,” said Andreaka Pitts, the district recruiter for Farmers Insurance Group. “Skills that they have developed during their time in the military, like leadership, really allows them to excel. Entrepreneurs need the confidence that the military instills.”
There are a number of foundations that help service members during their transition, like Marine for Life.
Marine for life is an official program in the United States Marine Corps. We are here to connect Marines, sailors, and their spouses to opportunities in the civilian world, said Maj. David L. Baril, the Marine Corps Installations West liaison for Marine for Life.
“We’re here to connect them with education, employment, access to benefits, life goals, mentoring, anything they need,” he said.
According to Baril service members should talk about the soft skills they have learned while being in the military. Their tenacity, leadership and flexibility will help them with future employers.
“Marines don’t say that is not my job,” said Baril. “A lot of times people will say ‘well I was hired to do this and now my boss is asking me to do something else,’ Marines will figure it out. Letting employers know that they are versatile will help them.”
The most important thing a Marine can do to prepare for the outside world is networking, said Baril.
“We are a network across the United States, you go through any parking lot and you will see Marine stickers on cars,” said Baril. “We are everywhere and we need to capitalize on that.”