July 25 is known annually as National Hire a Veteran Day, and the Fort Leonard Wood Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program staff regularly put veterans and employers together to do just that – get veterans hired – and employers say they enjoy hiring veterans like Terry Ollervides.
Ollervides recently transitioned out of the Army and received civilian employment assistance from SFL-TAP.
“Getting out of the military was a huge decision, especially since I have a family of three to support,” he said. “My ambition of getting out of the military stemmed from wanting to do what I felt was best for my family. I had a vision of me getting out and being successful in the civilian world so that my family didn’t have to go through moving every few years and all of the other stresses that are present when being in the military.”
He added that SFL-TAP assisted greatly in reducing the amount of stress that comes from job seeking.
“Although the transition was stressful at times, I was always able to get unlimited help from the excellent individuals that work at the SFL-TAP office on Fort Leonard Wood,” he said. “Although everybody there helped me in a lot of ways, I must give most of the credit to my transition counselor. She was extremely knowledgeable and helped me so much – she eventually led me to more jobs than I even knew what to do with.”
Ollervides said the staff went above and beyond in setting up a post-military career for him.
“There were even times that I would need last minute help and (my transition counselor) would do everything in her power to schedule something up for me,” he said. “I even called a time or two where she gave up her lunch period to instead help me out with things.”
And according to Ollervides, he saw tangible results from seeking help at SFL-TAP.
“I lost count at 30-plus referrals (to hiring managers) in under a month and a half,” he said. “I ended up accepting a great opportunity with the Veterans Health Administration, but had that opportunity not presented itself, it turned out there were even more coming my way. I was getting flooded with phone calls.”
Ollervides is set to start his new civilian job Aug. 3. He said he couldn’t be happier that employers want to hire veterans.
Why employers like to hire veterans
The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership is one employer-partner of SFL-TAP, and company leaders believe strongly in the value of former service members in the workforce. Executive Director Dorsey Newcomb reached out to the installation’s SFL-TAP office last fall for support in identifying a qualified transitioning service member for hiring consideration.
Newcomb conducted an interview and subsequently accepted retiring Sgt. Maj. Don Payne as an intern.
“After serving 30 years on active duty, Payne interned seamlessly with SOP for approximately 90 days,” Newcomb said. “At the end of a successful 90-day internship, he was offered a job and now serves as our deputy director.”
Newcomb added Payne’s military service made him a good fit for the role where he helps oversee day-to-day operations.
“Don was a perfect example of all the attributes that we know our veterans bring to civilian organizations like ours and we are very pleased to share our own success with others,” Newcomb said. “The skillset that made him a good fit for that was his organizational skills, his written and verbal communication skills, his knowledge and experience of the military and military communities, his work ethic, his attention to detail and his leadership.”
Payne said the high skillsets of many military occupational specialties make veterans especially attractive candidates to employers.
“There are many reasons to hire veterans,” he said. “Veterans are determined, resourceful and hard-working. They understand the importance of time management, working with limited resources, how to prioritize their work and completing tasks on time in stressful conditions. They also have valuable leadership abilities and are experienced in leading teams through challenges; they have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts and can adapt quickly to different situations.”
He added that the sheer number of new veterans in Missouri is cause for employers to consider them a prospective hiring pool.
“In measuring the magnitude of veteran impact on the workforce in Missouri, it is worth noting that in fiscal year 2018, more than 6,400 military personnel separated from their respective branches across the country and returned to the state of Missouri,” he said.
SFL-TAP schedules quarterly career fairs for transitioning service members, veterans and family members. However, due to COVID-19 risk-mitigation measures, the Aug. 20 SFL-TAP Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit has been rescheduled until further notice.
For more information on SFL-TAP and job opportunities, call 573.596.0175 or visit www.facebook.com/sfltap.flw. Additionally, a regularly updated list of upcoming virtual career fairs can be found at http://hiringourheroes.org/events.
(Editor’s note: SFL-TAP transition services specialist Alfredia Williams contributed to this article.)