‘Barracks to Business’: Long Island Vets Transition To Civilian Careers
by: Troops to Trades
October 16, 2016
By Briana Smith
Thirty-two veterans filed into a classroom to tackle a new battle: translating their military experience into civilian résumés.
With a pen and notebook in hand and an eagerness to learn, the veterans attended the “Barracks to Business” free workshop at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Oct. 5 offered by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Northwell Health, New York’s largest private employer, in collaboration with Suffolk County.
Anthony Silvera, a 30-year U.S. Air Force veteran and Northwell Health Veteran Program Specialist, regularly instructs veterans. The 50-year-old North Babylon resident served from 1984 and recently retired in 2014. Now, he strives to help veterans perfect their résumés and work ethics, acquire positions at Northwell Health and prepare them for job fairs.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Defense doesn’t do as good a job in preparing transitioning veterans with their résumés …” Silvera said. “I see so many veteran résumés day after day that are just horrible…they don’t show they are qualified for positions.”
Silvera also faced difficulties adjusting to the civilian world; he said it’s vital that veterans know how to tailor their résumés to specific positions and attend these workshops.
Besides amending the government’s veteran transitioning programs, he said veterans need to have a plan and an inclination to learn.
“They have to realize, just because you’re a veteran, you’re not going to get hired,” Silvera said. “In order for you to get hired and get an interview, your résumé needs to be done well and be able to talk about yourself in terms that civilians can understand, not military jargon.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the government’s primary fact-finding agency in labor economics, the national veteran unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.3 percent in September 2016 compared to last year. However, the unemployment rate for men veterans rose from 4.1 percent to 4.4 percent, while the unemployment rate for women decreased by 2 percent.
Despite these statistics, 49-year-old Kathleen Ribolla, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Lindenhurst who served from 1994-1996, is still struggling to establish a career. She has been applying for jobs since 2012.
“I could get a job at McDonalds for $8-$9 an hour,” Ribolla said. “I don’t want that. I want to find a career where I can advance, improve myself and keep educating myself.”
Fifty-six-year-old U.S. Navy and U.S. Army veteran Dean Santiago from Brentwood said she encounters challenges because this is a “male-dominated world.”
“People don’t know the strength of a woman,” said Santiago who served from 1979-1986. Santiago is searching for a stable career involving customer service because he loves to assist and interact with others.
Besides gaining valuable career skills at the workshop, Santiago also realized veterans are needed in the community.
“Seeing the people around me…they’re all about themselves,” Santiago said. “Veterans will be more apt to help no matter what happens… just because it’s humanity.”