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Veterans Service Organizations and The Media

Alex Mack and Mark Brenner at LA Metro Event
Alex Mack and Mark Brenner at LA Metro Event

For the past 30 months I have worked in the non-profit Veterans arena as Founder and CEO of Veterans Career Xchange (formerly Silhouettes for VETS). I have met numerous people and partnered with organizations that do an excellent job of working with Veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life. I have become part of many committees that assist those Veterans in need of civilian employment – we not only assist these Veterans but guide them toward a career.

In these 30 months I have watched and read as the Media all but trashes Veteran non-profits because of those few organizations that take advantage of our transitioning Veterans for their own financial gain – they have become the “man bites dog” lead headline for the media. Yet the real stories of Veteran Service Organizations are those of us who are making a difference – but still no recognition or media headlines!

Over the past year, there have been media reports about Veteran non-profits organizations spending up to 50% of the funds that are donated on their overhead which includes: parties, lavish organizational meeting, salaries, and other unnecessary cost that do not help our Veterans. Some of these organizations raised hundred of million of dollars only to see the donations used not for Veterans but for their own self gain. I have seen politicians tout the accomplishments of Veterans organizations only to find out that these organizations are not actually non-profits who are helping Veterans or in some cases are not even approved non-profit organizations!

Unfortunately these are the stories that make news! The few non-profit organizations that take advantage of transitioning Veterans have made all of us who are committed to seeing the unemployment rate for Veterans decrease, eliminate homelessness, and address the substance abuse and PTSD issues look like we are doing this to make money off of our donors.

Perhaps the Media should seek out those Veterans Organizations who are making a difference for our Veterans and who spend the majority of the funds raised to help Veterans.

To every media outlet that has reported on these few Veterans non-profits who take advantage of Veterans I ask you to take a deeper look! Those of us who are helping and assisting Veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce, who become homeless and have substance abuse or PTSD issues, are doing this work with limited funding and just a simple commitment to assist our returning heroes.

Veterans Career Xchange is an organization that is dedicated to educating, coaching and preparing Veterans for the civilian workforce. Our experience coupled with our commitment to putting a Veteran into a civilian career is unmatched when compared to other Veteran Service Organizations. In 30 months we have placed over 80% of the Veterans we have coached! We have been able to retain an astounding percentage of over 82% of those Veterans placed in career positions.

So to all the broadcast media, print media and Internet bloggers who have reported on those Veteran organizations who are taking advantage of our Veterans, I challenge you to take a look at Veteran non-profit organizations that are making a difference by working to decrease Veteran unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse or PTSD issues!

The Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative by USC (Center for Innovative Research for Veterans and military families) is an initiative that addresses Veterans issues – employment, housing, legal, faith based and substance abuse and PTSD. A scheduled monthly meeting discusses the issues and the solutions for transitioning Veterans with Veteran Service Organizations. It is time that recognition is given to initiatives that take pride in addressing the plight of our transitioning Veterans and the companies that make up the support for our transitioning Veterans, like Veterans Career Xchange.

Perhaps you, the media, could for once not just consider the headline – instead address the real story! Organizations like Veterans Career Xchange are making a difference by putting our transitioning Veterans to work in a civilian career! Please visit our Website at:


Listen to VCX Mark Brenner on LA Talk Radio

On June 22nd, CEO and Founder of VCX Mark Brenner was a guest Christina Silva’s Show on LA Talk Radio, the topic was “Educating Our Veterans”.


Click to listen to the show here

Christina Silva — The career path is made more seamless with the Veterans Career XChange one-on-one coaching and ten step program implemented by Mark Brenner and the team of professional coaches at  Find out more about the ten key components necessary to find the right position and the commensurate salary as you transition out of military uniform into corporate professionalism.  Be encouraged by resume writing skills, networking strategies and an all new strategy of  improvisation role playing necessary to earn the interview. Understand the workforce and learn how to use social media to Get a Job!  Also maintain an active lifestyle, family time and Remember Everyone Deployed. Each week we remember each service member  in our sports entertainment segment entitled: “R.E.D. Balls” by CRS with co-host Larry “The Sand Man”. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers historic NBA Finals Championship 2016. #BEESAFE




I take great pride in announcing that Silhouettes for VETS is changing our name!

After many months of research and surveys with our Board of Directors and other Veteran organizations we have taken the first step in scaling our operations by changing our name to: VETERANS CAREER XCHANGE.


During our first two years it has become evident that there were some issues with our previous Brand name – Silhouettes for VETS. It was obvious that it is just too hard to spell but more importantly we saw that the brand did not effectively communicate the essence of who we are and what our mission is. It became obvious that it did not communicate to Veterans the quality coaching and educating service the organization could provide to them.

We wanted to distinguish ourselves from other Veteran Service Organization and preclude words or expressions that have, in some circles, been overused! Words like Heroes or Warriors were disqualified. We also did not want our unique services to be confused with other organizations that are also doing great work. Veterans Career Xchange, first suggested by Alex Mack, Executive Director, was the one name that stood out.

Transitioning military personnel who have been familiar with the Post Exchange (PX) or the Base Exchange (BX) can now work with the great coaches of the Career Xchange (CX)!

We are not just working to put Veterans in jobs! We are coaching and preparing each Veteran for a career position in the civilian workforce.

To that end we have also changed the descriptor for our core program from “GET YOUR JOB” to, “Xchanging a Military Uniform for a Civilian Career”. Our unique and customized model of educating, coaching and preparing Veterans for the workforce remains the same. Our other Programs (Veterans Improv and our Woman’s Veteran Program – WANTED) remain the same.

General Ruth Wong (Ret) Director Military and Veterans Affairs – County of Los Angeles and Mark Brenner

We are excited about our new Branding and how it will reach and impact the Veteran community. Our Programs depend upon you – our supporters! Our analysis has revealed that our cost to put a Veteran to work is right around $1000.00. Just imagine what $1000.00 can do? A Veteran working at or above a living wage decreases homelessness, decreases the amount of assistance they receive from the Government, decreases the suicide rate among Veterans, increases the taxes for both the State and Federal government and stimulates our consumer based economy by injecting spendable dollars.

We are asking for your continued support by making a donation (donations start at $5.00). Just as the presidential candidates receive millions of dollars through small donations, imagine if the Veteran Career Xchange could received just $20.00 from 50,000 supporters? That would put over 1250 veterans to work generating over 60 million dollars of spendable income for the economy. Donations to the Veteran Career Xchange are crucial to the goal of expansion throughout the United States and would enable the Veteran Career Xchange to all but eliminate Veteran unemployment.

Our mailing address and phone number will remain the same however our email and website will reflect our new name:


Veterans Career Xchange


Mark Brenner



Alex Mack



Thank you everyone for your support!


2015 in Review…

It has been a while since my last Blog and I wanted to update all of our supporters about all the great work we accomplished in 2015.

We have completed two years of working with Veterans throughout Southern CA. In twenty-four months we have coached and prepared over 200 Veterans for the civilian workforce. Our placement percentage of the Veterans we have coached is over 80%! In 2015 we coached 140 Veterans and placed 114 Veterans into positions that are at or above a living wage with an average annual salary of close to $50,000.

The results have been rewarding and far above those of other Veteran Service Organization. Our percentage of placement coupled with a retention rate of Veterans in new positions for over 6 months has exceeded our goals. The work of our Executive Director, Alex Mack a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, our staff of Volunteers has allowed us to achieve our goals.

The Veterans we have worked with are working across all industries from aerospace, to entertainment to technology companies. Our 10-Component Program has shown that it works and we will continue to improve our process. Our Veteran Improv Program has been developed and we are undertaking a Pilot Program with the assistance of USC (CIR). Once completed, we are sure that this program will become an industry standard for interview preparation.

Over the course of 2015 we have added three key members to our Board of Directors. Sal Esparza, PhD and assistant Director of the Center of Health and Wellbeing for CSUN, Lisa Phalen a nationally recognized coach and motivational speaker and Mary Gomez, a senior executive and Human Resources expert. We welcome our new Members and are confident that together with the rest of our Board we can become the Premier Veterans coaching organization in the nation.

Due to other commitments two Board Members, Marvin Rapaport and Nancy Butler has decided to step down as Board Members. We wish them both well in their endeavors.

We are pleased to announce that we have received Grants from both The United Way and The MVAT Foundation. We have currently submitted 7 other Grants for consideration. Further we have received donations from over 100 individuals who have been generous and supportive.

And finally we are in the process of migrating to a new Brand… Silhouettes for VETS will be changing it name in the course of the next few weeks to “Veteran’s Career Xchange” – I am sure you all remember the Post Exchange (PX) or the Base Exchange (BX)? Well now every Veteran will have access to the Career Xchange (CX). I will be notifying everyone once the new name is official and the new Website in up and running. Of course we will soon have a new Facebook page and Twitter handle

For 2016 we have developed our goals and results that will further benefit and impact the Veteran unemployment rate. I will be sending out Blog each week to give you updates and our results.

Thank you all for your support. In order to impact today’s unemployed Veterans we still need your help. Based upon our analysis for every $1000.00 received in donations we can put a Veteran’s to work! Think about it. That a Veteran going to work for just $1000.00 decreases State and Federal assistance, adds dollars to the economy and improves to the health and well being our Veterans! Our donations start at $5.00 – please help us help our Veterans…

I will look forward to hearing your comments and receiving your donations.


Reflections of Veterans Day

sfv_vets_day2It has been over 4 decades since I returned from Vietnam. It would be trite if not unobserving, to simply say how the world has evolved!

After a 15-hour flight from Vietnam to McCord Air Force Base I can’t help but remember seeing protesters with signs and throwing rocks at our cab that would take us to the Seattle Airport so I could, after 362 days, finally go home. For the next 40 years I was shy (almost embarrassed) to let anyone know I was a Veteran –a Vietnam Veteran. It was a time that for so long I just wanted to forget! So the past 40 plus Veterans Days has just been another day when Federal Employees were given a day off! I had no desire to participate in celebrations or events because of how I was “welcomed home” by almost everyone (except maybe my parents) from Vietnam in 1969!

It was not until 2012 that someone casually said to me…”Thank you for your Service!” I am not sure how I responded but I do know that I was shocked that someone, anyone would recognize my contribution (no matter how insignificant).
But that was a different time in our history. Perhaps the lessons of the strategy of winning in Vietnam are not only embedded in history but have also set the groundwork understanding the sacrifice made by a few of us for our country. I was lucky – I came home! It was a different time and a sad time in our history.

So let’s fast-forward to the present…I can say without reservation that how we view those of us who have made these commitments has changed! Today understanding the Veteran community, it seems, it at the top of everyone’s “to do list”. Veterans are appreciated for their service and their commitment. It goes without saying that it is politically correct to honor a Vet – there is a feeling throughout the country that Veterans deserve respect for their service. Finally we can all stand tall and say that we “Served”!

Yet politically correct only gets us so far! Feeling and saying is not enough. It is time for a more concerted effort to make every Veteran whole! Let’s stop saying we are going to end Veteran homelessness, help every Veteran with a psychological or substance abuse issue and make sure we do something or anything to decrease Veteran unemployment! Let’s cut through the bureaucracy of studies and forms and get the work that needs to be done accomplished.

Unfortunately there are some organizations that take advantage of the political correctness of assisting Veterans – to those organizations I will say “go find another cause to support”! Let the organizations that are committed to the well being of our Veterans do our work and help to effectively end the issues facing today’s Veterans.

In 2014 I created Silhouettes for VETS with only one goal in mind…Coach and Prepare Veterans for the workforce. And by doing so I could impact the staggering Veteran unemployment rate. After over 40 years in the Staffing and Human Resources industry I am keenly aware that the population in general does not know how to look for a job (career) and that number is dramatically increased in the Veteran community. So I used my experience to give back! And giving back we have helped place 80% of the Veterans we have coached into career positions! Just think how much we could accomplish if our model is expanded. Can you envision Veteran unemployment at 5%? – now wouldn’t that be great.

But is not just Silhouettes for VETS. Many organizations in the non-profit sector have the same level of commitment to our Veterans. Organizations like NVTSI, Makeovers that Matter, The Gary Sinise Foundation, Hire our Hero’s, Easter Seals, The Salvation Army Haven, JVS, The Soldiers Project, PsychArmor, PATH and many others are having a profound impact as they work with Veterans to ensure that they can make a seamless transition to civilian life.

Let’s take a moment and know that policies, documents and plans don’t help the Veteran community. We need a call for results. Each of the organizations that are committed to work for the benefit of our Veterans already has a plan – let’s put our plan (s) into action without delay. So I challenge each of you who are currently working and supporting our Veterans to do just 10% more in the coming twelve months! The results, I can assure you, will have a profound impact in making the Veteran community a better place.

So as we celebrate, commemorate Veterans Day 2015 let’s all reflect and honor those of us that have served – let’s do more – let’s to everything we can so Veterans can be off the street, psychologically sound, drug and alcohol free and employed!

To everyone who has ever served…THANK YOU!


Hiring Veterans on Expert’s Corner

Silhouettes For Vets Founder Mark Brenner guest blogged on Read Marks blog on Expert’s Corner: Hiring Veterans — Preparing this talent pool for the workforce is critical.

By |May 1st, 2015|Department, Experts Corner, May 2015

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Expert’s Corner: Hiring Veterans

Unemployment among US military veterans is substantially higher than that of working age civilians. In Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 43,000 unemployed veterans.

At the same time, there are nearly 45,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the country that work with veterans. Thousands of these organizations are dedicated to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life with the end goal of attaining employment. This is the good news.

The bad news is, many of these organizations are interested in putting veterans to work in the civilian sector without consideration of a living wage — which does not solve the problem. In fact, the repercussions can be more severe than one realizes.

It can lead to these veterans needing to seek out government assistance, facing the reality of becoming homeless or possibly contemplating suicide. The suicide rate for veterans is staggering, and the number of homeless veterans is also unacceptable.

Given this backdrop, it’s not enough for companies to establish “veteran hiring initiatives.” Yes, if implemented properly, a veterans hiring initiative is a great step toward decreasing veteran unemployment. Unfortunately, the issue with these initiatives presents a two-fold dilemma: On the one hand, a great percentage of these initiatives are created because it is the “right thing to do.” But most importantly, it is not the first step needed to ensure that veterans are employed at a living wage.

Preparing veterans. Veterans are highly skilled people. It is up to the staffing industry to adapt its HR policies and take a deeper look at how the industry fills jobs. By revising its approach, agencies can have access to a pool of talent with unique and valuable skill sets.

What is critical in this process is helping veterans prepare for the job search and qualify for the position before being considered by the company. The first step, therefore, in transitioning veterans into the civilian workforce is to prepare them for it.

The military has contracted with companies to assist in the transition of returning vets. A point to remember is however, many of these programs cannot effectively prepare veterans for the workforce in a one- or two-day workshop.

To that end, there are many nonprofit veteran service organizations that supplement these transition workshops. Some assist with résumés or interviewing skills. My organization, Silhouettes for VETS, takes a one-onone customized approach to educate, prepare and coach veterans through the hiring cycle in order to get a viable job.

The process. Staffing companies can work with organizations that empower veterans to navigate the hiring cycle including transition to civilian life, identifying companies and skill sets, the creation of a résumé, time management and interviewing techniques. There are some programs that address some of these requirements and others provide one or two elements. Some programs, such as Silhouettes for VETs, also include ongoing support after the veteran has secured employment.

Collaborating with other nonprofit veteran service organization allows companies and staffing firms to resolve issues faced by transitioning veterans. Here are just a few: The Salvation Army Haven helps address veteran homelessness, The Soldiers Project works with veterans struggling to reintegrate from military to civilian life and National Veterans Transition Services assists veterans as they move from military life to civilian life.

The goal. It’s on all of us to help transitioning veterans find employment in the civilian workforce. Through collaboration and better understanding of this ecosystem, all parties — including staffing firms — can better help to reduce veteran unemployment, and in the process, poverty and homelessness. This is a great opportunity to help the country and your business.



sfv_portrait_mark_brenner-1In the past 18 months Silhouettes for VETS has become a driving force in working with Veterans as they search for a job. Our Programs that educates, coaches and prepares Veterans for the workforce has resulted in an 80% success rate – 80% of the Veterans we have coached have gained an understanding of the hiring cycle and been offered employment. Not just a job but also a career as each of the Veterans who have completed our 10-Component Program is working in a position that is at or above a living wage.

Recently, Silhouettes for VETS has been featured in an interview on LATalkLive and received mention in a segment with one of our partners, Makeovers that Matter, on KTLA

And that is just the start for we are developing the outline for a one-hour radio call-in talk show that will feature Silhouettes for VETS, REBOOT and Makeovers that Matter. We all agree that it is time that we create a positive media image for Veterans who transitioning and are getting “job ready” – preparing each Veteran in every way for the workforce. Move to follow on our progress.

As I mentioned in a previous Blog, the synergy created by the partnership of REBOOT, Silhouettes for VETS and Makeovers that Matter is the entire package for Veterans who are transitioning from the military. This collaboration covers every aspect of transitioning Veterans so once the Programs are completed each Veteran will be “job ready”!

Silhouettes for VETS has also made some very important additions to our Board of Directors. In recent months we have added 7 new members who will be instrumental in our successes in the coming months. Along with our current members, Mark Brenner, Dennis Forst and Marvin Rapaport, MD, I am proud to welcome the following new Board Members:

  1. Anthony Cuculo, Major General (Ret)
  2. Stuart Gross, Retired TV Producer and M&A and Branding Expert
  3. Maurice Wilson, President of NVTSI (REBOOT)
  4. Melissa Metz, Director of Human Resources for Exelis Inc.
  5. Kelly Logan, Executive Director of Silhouettes for VETS
  6. Nancy Butler, Fundraising Expert
  7. Sari Drucker, Business Woman and Owner

A Board meeting with all our Directors will be held on Friday June 19, 2015 at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall at 9 am.

Silhouettes for VETS has been asked by The Chamber of Commerce – Hire our Hero’s Program to present our 10 Component Program to three military installations throughout the United States. We are excited for this opportunity to work with more Veterans as they transition to civilian life.

Stay tuned as we are producing a series of Videos that will run our Website and Facebook pages. These Videos will include testimonials from a few of our Veterans along with an introduction to our programs.

We have come a long way in a very short period of time – and this is just the beginning. Once fully funded, Silhouettes for VETS will be expanding throughout California so we can have a greater impact on decreasing Veteran unemployment…One Veteran at a time.

And of course, our efforts need your support. You donations will help us increase the number of Veterans we serve and expand our coaching capabilities. Donations start at $25.00. Thank you for your support





SYNERGY – Silhouettes for VETS, REBOOT and Makeovers that Matter!


There are thousands of organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, that support our Veterans. In fact there are over 44,000 non-profit organizations that in some way or another work with Veteran related causes. Of these thousands a great many work with Veterans as they transition from the military to civilian life from adjustment to life outside the military to identifying a similarity between a military occupation and a civilian job, workshops that discuss all aspects of this sometimes difficult transition. Organizations like Silhouettes for VETS coach and prepare Veterans for the workforce. And finally there are organizations like Makeovers that Matter that physically prepare these Veterans for civilian life.

I am proud to announce that a Partnership has been formed that will cover the facets of the transition of Veterans to civilian life. Silhouettes for VETS, National Veterans Transition Services (REBOOT) and Makeovers that Matter have joined forces to make available a “transition collaboration” that prepares Veterans for civilian life both mentally and physically:

REBOOT: National Veterans Transition Services, Inc., lead by Maurice Wilson, (US Navy Ret.) prepares Veterans for their Transition to civilian life through a 3-week workshop that reintegrates our Veterans and prepares them for life outside the military.

SILHOUETTES FOR VETS: A premier customize coaching organization, lead by Mark Brenner (Vietnam Veteran and Career Coach) that educates, coaches and prepares Veterans for the workforce. Each program is customized to the needs of each Veteran.

MAKEOVERS THAT MATTER: Lead by one of Los Angeles’ leading stylists Makeover that Matter (MJ Derricott) works with both Female and Male Veterans to assist in making the outside appearance of each Veteran look as good as the inside. Makeover that Matter further takes the final step in the transition by hosting a 9- week, 36-hour program called The Mind Set Program.

It is the goal of our organizations to prepare transitioning Veterans for both civilian life and the workforce. By combining our specific areas of expertise we will be a major factor in eliminating the issues that face our Veterans as they prepare for civilian life. We all have taken our responsibilities to our Veterans a step further by establishing partnerships with other organizations that work to eliminate Veteran homelessness, mental health and substance related issues.

With thousands of organizations who dedicate themselves to working with Veterans, the collaboration of REBOOT, Silhouettes for VETS and Makeovers that Matter stands out as a one of a kind working relationship that not only acts to prepares Veterans for civilian life but is effective in getting the job done.

Please make sure you visit our Websites at:

Our mutual goal is to ensure that all Veterans have the tools necessary to transparently transition from military to civilian life. By combining our areas of specific expertise we can meet our goals.


Why Hire a Veteran?

I pose this question, “Why hire a veteran?”, knowing that the answer has for the most part eluded the American Job Market since the conclusion of the war in Vietnam in 1975. For the obviously reasons a company or conglomerate ought to hire a veteran has been occluded and disguised behind the reek and subterfuge of our nations sympathy and patriotism. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because vets deserve our thanks. You shouldn’t hire a veteran for the tax breaks or the good PR. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because of the suicide epidemic within the community where it’s been shown that employment is canary in the coal mine and the bellwether for more serious mental health concerns. And you shouldn’t even hire a veteran because it’s the right thing to do. No the real reason to hire a veteran is rooted in cold unforgiving capitalism and surmised most eloquently from the retired NFL Wide receiver Randy Moss…”Straight cash Homie!”

Yes the reason to hire veterans are that under the right conditions, veterans make an organization a ton of money, and vastly more than could be accumulated with civilian counterparts. Beyond values and honor, veterans bring to the civilian world an unabashed almost maniacal compulsion to accomplish the mission. And veterans will stop at nothing to achieve this, even at the expense and detriment of their own personhood. Once veterans achieve total buy in, they are adaptive, ingenious, rugged, and brash, living by the ethos: Mission First, Men Second (men signifying universality).

So what’s the catch? And If it were that easy then why isn’t everyone doing it? Well the truth is that it isn’t that easy. The United States Military did not invent the first electric programmable computer, the atomic bomb, and topple Nazi Germany in a two-year span because we were more capable, the military accomplished these feats because it was more committed. Whenever dealing with the military the secret sauce will always come back to leadership. The United States doesn’t spend billions on ROTC and Academy scholarships for nothing, it’s because it takes committed knowledgeable Leadership to harness the wealth of potential embedded within an U.S. serviceman.

I threw in the words “under the right conditions,” as a hedge. Creating proper conditions is not without its cost, and conceivably not for all organizations. By throwing a veteran into an environment without explicit duty, to deprive a veteran of the significance of his/her work, or to limit responsibility is a recipe detrimental to the organization and the veteran. But as the free market dictates, it takes money to make money, and should a company be willing to create the structure where veterans have both the significance associated with their work as well as management suited to inspire, well then even Hitler would attest, that there aren’t any individuals better suited to innovate, manage, invent, succeed and most importantly drive profits. And I’m certain you’ll find then ends justify the means.

Alex Mack is a U.S. Army Veteran, former Infantry Officer and Ranger. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and has worked as a headhunter/recruiter for numerous companies before transitioning into the Veteran nonprofit sector. Alex currently serves as the Director of Development for Silhouettes for Vets, an l non-profit bridging the employment veteran civilian divide by any means necessary.


A Veteran’s Hiring Initiative – Do YOU Really Have One?

Most large and mid-size companies throughout the country have Veteran Hiring initiatives – or do they?

First, it seems fair to ask – What actually is a Veterans Hiring Initiative?  Does this mean the company will only hire Veteran’s – of course not!  Does it mean that it is advantageous from a publicity stance to “say” you have a Veterans initiative – perhaps!  Or does a Veterans Hiring Initiative mean that a company will make a concerted effort to hire Veterans – Yes!  Over the course of the past few years as these initiatives were developed and implemented this is the breadth and depth of what a highly functioning veterans initiative should be.

Unfortunately a great number of companies say they have Veteran Hiring Initiatives for outward appearances to the public, for these companies are marketing their organization for their own benefit without any of the claimed benefit professed to be bestowed on our Veterans.

Companies who have Veteran Hiring Initiatives have open positions – these are not Veterans jobs but jobs!  It is a misconception to believe that a company with an initiative will only hire Veterans.  Of course a company with an initiative would prefer to hire a Veteran but if a Veteran applicant is not prepared or qualified for the job then the position ought to and will be offered to the person who will perform the best. Therefore all job openings should be treated as such and even though an initiative may exist, it is not a Veterans job opening – it is a job opening!

Throughout the Los Angeles area companies are making a concerted effort to hire Veterans.  Many Staffing Companies have created military divisions to work with Veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce.  Both private and public sector companies (including staffing organizations) coupled with Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Veteran Hiring Initiative are making in-roads to ensure Veterans are securing positions at a living wage. Yet for as many companies that are actively recruiting and hiring Veteran talent in Los Angeles, there are perhaps 10-fold more who only advertise their initiative for their own benefit. Los Angeles and the nation must strive to employ our Veterans at a wage that is sustainable in order that we decrease the number of homelessness, substance abuse, and suicide within the Veteran community.

The solution to the Veterans Hiring Initiative is two-fold.  It incumbent upon those service veteran organizations, like Silhouettes for VETS, to prepare our Veterans for the workforce.  There are literally dozens of organizations in the Los Angeles area who prepare, in one way or another, Veterans for the workforce including, the VA, EDD, CCD, JVS, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.  Yet when surveyed Veterans say that they do not know where to go to get these services.  The job of the service organizations is not only to prepare and educate our Veterans for the workforce but also to spread the word about the services that are offered. 

There are over 40,000 non-profit organizations throughout the country that work with Veterans.  Many of these companies work to support Veterans to educate and prepare them for employment.  Yet spreading the word about these companies who prepare Veterans for employment is not an easy task.  Many organizations are competitive and judged off the numbers of enrolled vets they can procure making the process of hiring both soiled and competitive. Veterans should be able to work with as many organizations as they wish in order that they can be prepared for the workforce and get a job.

The USC School of Social Work Survey, “The State of the American Veteran” cites that 8 out of 10 Veterans arriving in Los Angeles are unemployed!  There are over 16,000 Veterans in Los Angeles who are unemployed and over 40,000 Veterans unemployed in Los Angeles County.  And thousand’s more who are under employed.  For purposes of Veterans hired, it is unfair to consider those who are under employed (below a living wage).   Many of these returning military personnel are not prepared for the civilian workforce.  The organizations that educate and prepare Veterans for the workforce have undertaken a herculean task. But through coordinated and concerted efforts these organizations can make a difference – to educate and prepare every single qualified Veteran for the civilian workforce.

The second piece of the puzzle remains with the employer. Employers with Veteran Hiring Initiatives ought give strong consideration to qualified Veteran candidates. Not just by saying, “We hire Veterans” or “Veteran Welcome”, but by taking action by mandating a percentage of the workforce, such as many companies in New York have done. If every company with an initiative agreed to a percentage, regardless of what the percentage was, veterans would then become interviewed and their skills and abilities would quickly come to the forefront of the corporate world.  Although military life does not parallel civilian life, it does educate our Veterans to understand the value of a work ethic and task accomplishment, the cornerstones of productive business practices. 

It is one thing to say we hire Veterans, but it is something entirely different to see these words begin to equal action. Let us all, Veteran Service Organizations and employers alike, work together to use our knowledge, our expertise as well as our appreciation to decrease the Veteran unemployment rate and eliminate the number of those who are under employed.