The VetsBridge team and event panelists at the employment symposium.
VetsBridge.com, which recently moved its operations to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has hit the ground running in its new location with a symposium on veterans’ employment. The three-hour event, held on March 3 at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs, provided an overview of the job market for veterans and information on the benefits and resources available to businesses that hire veterans. Attendees included area business owners, human resource professionals, and representatives of service agencies.
The program featured a panel of four people with experience in the employment sector and veterans’ affairs. The group’s conversation ranged from the valuable skills, experiences, and reliability that veterans bring to the job, to the stereotypes of veterans returning from areas of conflict, to the transitions from military to civilian life.
According to panelist Joe Pennell, commander of the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, the typical “millennium” on the job will ask, “What’s in it for me?,” while a veteran will likely ask, “What’s the next mission?” He said that the contrast in attitude speaks for itself.
Also on the panel was Erica Choi, a former military intelligence officer who is now a senior manager with the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Albany, N.Y. area. She reported a strong entrepreneurial spirit among veterans and good supervisory skills, which she said have made for a high rate of success for veteran-owned businesses in the area.
The other panelists were Erin Drout, community employment coordinator at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., and navy veteran Keith Prairie, of the not-for-profit Martin’s Point Health Care, who serves on the Veterans Business Council of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. The keynote speaker was attorney Michael Billok, a former submarine officer who is an expert on employment law.
The symposium concluded with a presentation on VetsBridge.com and its unique system of matching veterans with employers. As the presentation noted, VetsBridge.com uses a unique algorithm that matches military experience and skills with companies and employers from around the world that are committed to hiring veterans. The system enables military personnel to begin their job search at any time, even before completing their military service, by creating a profile and managing their job search. The program is offered to veterans free of charge.