Leaders Helping Veterans to Successful Civilian Employment Transitions: An Interview with Center’s Advisory Board Member, Steve Vincent, PMP

By Linda Crerar

There is an increased demand in all sectors of the community for professionals, who understand the complex nature of Public Safety, Security and Emergency Management. Combined with an aging workforce at or near retirement, the demand has dramatically increased the need to prepare students to enter these fields. Washington State companies and organization are seeking now more than ever employees in the security industry, law enforcement, emergency communications, and public health care professionals with emergency and disaster management experience. Our military population is a key source of talent to meet these demands. However, the current approach to transitioning military to these professions fails to fully leverage their experience and education and lacks consistency.

The Center, with leadership from its Advisory Board Members such as Steve Vincent, got actively involved in helping educate employers and Veterans to facilitate successful transitions to civilian jobs. The Center produced a guide that provides a crosswalk based on the skill level and experience of the veteran to determine what certification, licenses and credentials would be utilized by civilian employers.

Steve is a retired veteran who served 25 years in the Navy before making his own transition to civilian employment, He shared with us his personal journey going through his own transition process in an interview with me. Steve shared about the importance of telling his story and in hope that it will help other military members going through transition. Steve provides great insights and stories about volunteer work with the veteran community.

Steve said his experience as a mentor working with Hire Our Heroes and the Washington State Veteran Employee’s Resource Groups (VERGs), which was set up through an executive order from Governor Inslee. According to VERG, its purpose is “to help integrate the experience, values, and knowledge of both veterans and service members in state employment. This Employee Resource Group supports former and active military personnel and their families through a system of comprehensive activities and developmental opportunities.”

There was a massive career fair as part of Gov. Inslee’s executive order that created a Washington State Transition Council. This Council was co-chaired by the JBLM Base Commander and the Director of Veteran’s Affairs and was focused on how we bring the private sector, Department of Defense (DOD) and the state agencies together on solving common problems and reducing barriers.

“I worked for several years in a volunteer capacity with one of the subgroups on technical education and apprenticeships with educators from the community colleges and staff from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC),” Steve informed Linda and continued with, “We looked at how we educate employers and veterans on the pathways that they can take. It really was a grass roots volunteer effort.”

Over the course of three years, Steve worked with the VERGs and the Transition Council organizing and attending transition summits and career fairs held at Joint Base Lewis McCord. Steve said, “Having a table at the career fair was not always the best use of time so what I would do is typically stand in the middle of an aisle and just look at faces and you could see the faces of the people that were trying to figure out what to do? I would work with folks that were feeling lost or overwhelmed by how to get into the private civilian company’s and do a warm handoff to the companies.”

Steve also mentioned, “I would have companies who would listen to me talking to people and they told me they realized that they were missing out on some talent because they were not asking the right questions. There is a great talent base in those veterans who are leaving active duty and about half stay here in Washington State and it is important for employers to tap into them and talk their language.” He went on to explain how, “There are a whole lot of jobs in the military that match up with what civilian employers need in the private sector and it is important to help both employer and veteran match up their knowledge, skills, abilities and certifications so they are better set up for transitions.”

It was a pleasure talking with Steve about the importance of supporting of veterans in their transitions to civilian careers and reminded of his problem-solving aptitude. Listening skills and passion and focus for helping people successfully resolve their challenges. Steve has been a Member of the Center’s Advisory Board for over five (5) years and has always delivered on his commitments with professionalism, integrity and accountability.

To listen to Steve’s interview, CLICK HERE

To read Steve’s article from the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, CLICK HERE

Visit our website for the Guide to Establishing Military Pathways: Public Safety, Security, and Emergency