WASHINGTON - With high unemployment among veterans and a million servicemembers expected to leave the military in the next five years, efforts abound to help them make the transition to civilian life. So many efforts, in fact, it’s a muddy mess of resources.
The search engine giant is trying to do for veterans what it does best: provide a centralized place to easily find and use the information that’s out there. The company has partnered with Hire Heroes USA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to create VetNet, an interactive community for job searching veterans and their spouses.
“We hope it is a one-stop shop of sorts that offers a full spectrum of services no matter where [veterans] are in [their] transition,” Carrie Laureno, of Google, said.
The idea, though, was to make it more than just a resource library. VetNet not only will gather all the important information in one easily navigated place, but will also make the process more interactive instead of a one-way deluge of information. The hallmark of VetNet will be use of the Google Hangouts feature, which lets a group of people video chat with each other. With the VetNet arranged hangouts, veterans can have “fireside chats” with CEOs and successful entrepreneurs and “attend” training classes where participants can ask questions, said Kevin Schmiegel, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who is executive director of the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program. They’ll record the chats and post on YouTube for others to view.
The website focuses on three tracks: basic training for resume and interview skills, career connections to locate jobs, and a entrepreneurial field guide for starting a business.
The entrepreneur track, for example, will offer “training that focuses on launching and growing a venture, understanding the vocation of business ownership, and making informed decisions about whether that path is right for them,” said Mike Haynie, an Air Force vet and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
Schmiegel called the grassroots, in-person efforts to connect veterans to civilian employers “tireless work." Google brings the potential to reach millions of veterans in a cost-effective way.
“It’s a game changer,” Schmiegel said, “and I don’t think that is overstating.”