Grateful employers have jobs awaiting veterans

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Grateful employers have jobs awaiting veterans

As U.S. military servicemen and women return from active duty, employers and job placement centers are trying to match them with jobs. Meanwhile, many veterans create their own opportunities by starting their own businesses.

Military veterans often choose to become business owners when they are released from active duty, said Mike Stull, executive director of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship.

“They think to themselves ‘I’d like to reap the rewards and take the responsibility,'” of owning a company, Stull said.

Business loans for veterans increased 19 percent in the second-half of the 2006 fiscal year to 82 loans worth $22.3 million at the Santa Ana District of the Small Business Administration.

John Ray, a former military jet and helicopter pilot, retired from the Marine Corps in 2000 after 22 years of service. Ray weighed becoming an airline pilot, but opted to start a concrete staining business in Temecula because the demand in the Inland Empire was high, he said…

     

The work ethic he acquired in the military contributed to his desire to start his own business, Florentine Floors, Ray said. “People have this idea that the military says, ‘Shut up and do as you’re told’ and maybe it was in World War II, but people have to operate autonomously. In today’s military, we have thinkers and decision-makers at all levels.” he said.

The Job Zone Network in Temecula, which operates industry-specific recruitment Web sites, launched a site March 27 for military personnel transitioning to civilian jobs.

The Web site, militaryjobzone.com, is managed by military veterans who have experience in recruiting fellow veterans.

The Department of Defense releases 17,000 to 21,000 active duty personnel each month, said Jeff Williams, director of operations for Job Zone Network. Most of those former military personnel immediately look for employment when they return from active duty, Williams said.

“The Inland Empire has a large military population,” Williams said. “We are seeing 45 to 55 candidates generating profiles daily. Our expectations are to get that number to 250 to 300 in the next few months. On the employer side, we are seeing anywhere from two to five new registrations daily” on the web site, Williams said.

Some employers express a preference for military veterans because of their work ethic and the technical skills acquired from operating high-tech weapons and equipment, Williams said.

“Those [skills] translate well in the private sector,” Williams said.

Increasingly, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have turned to geographic information systems in mapping strategic operations .

Environmental Systems Research Institute in Redlands, a geographic information systems developer, has tapped hundreds of personnel from the military to help develop software, said Bill Harp, defense market manager.

In 2005, 10 percent of the company’s new hires were military veterans, said Cindi Peterson Tompkins, director of administrative services. Veterans with geographic information systems knowledge are appointed to various departments, including education and development, Tompkins said.

“GIS has been embraced by so many military operations that we are grateful to offer a next-level career for folks getting out of the military,” Tompkins said.

Employers that prefer military veterans for job openings frequently offer them higher salaries than they do recent college graduates because of the direct hands-on experience they bring to the company, Williams said.

In technical professions, a recent graduate’s salary ranges from $36,000 to $42,000 a year. Military veterans are offered $55,000 to $65,000 a year.

In non-technical jobs, such as private security, hourly wages start at about $2 higher for veterans compared with civilians, Williams said. Hourly wages are from $8 to $16, he said.

Hourly wages in security “depend on the post a guard is assigned to, but we always try to reward [military veterans] with a higher pay rating,” said John Walters, recruiting supervisor for Universal Protection Services in Riverside.

Universal Protection Services hires 1,000 security employees each year, Walters said.

Nearly half of them have a military background, but the company “can never find enough” employees with a military background, because of the company’s rapid growth, he said.

Universal Protection Services attends job fairs and stays in contact with military bases, including March Air Reserve Base, to hire personnel returning from active duty, Walters said.

Military veterans “handle confrontation well. They are pretty good at prioritizing and very good at their level of common sense about what the job should involve. They don’t require a whole lot of training [because] they’ve had previous training in the military. Our company operates in the chain of command structure and they are very comfortable in that,” Walters said.

Universal Protection Services offers military veterans a higher salary as an incentive to sign with the company, Walters said.

To either post a job or look for jobs available for veterans click here

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