Wounded warriors prepare for job fair
The Daily News
Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion East on Camp Lejeune were at the USO recently preparing for a job fair being held Wednesday.
“It’s a rough process trying to get out,” said Cpl. Anthony Gentile, a Marine who suffered a traumatic brain injury after coming in contact with an improvised explosive device while deployed to Afghanistan. “I came to get some help.”
Seventeen more Marines like Gentile from the Wounded Warrior Battalion were at the USO attending a transition preparation workshop hosted by HireHeroesUSA, a non-profit organization that aims to create job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses.
The Marines were trained in resume writing and translating military experience to terms civilian employers can understand. They even sat through mock interviews with potential employers.
Gentile will be getting out of the Marine Corps in December, and he’s torn between becoming a truck driver or a veterinarian. He said he hoped the workshop would help him make a decision, as well as prepare him for the job-seeking world he is about to enter.
“I went on a website to try to get a part-time job, and I failed miserably,” Gentile said. “I thought if I couldn’t even get that part-time job now, when I get out, trying to get a full time job is going to be even harder.”
Gentile’s wife, Olivia Gentile, accompanied him to the workshop, as she will also be separating from the Marine Corps this year. She said she hopes to attend Coastal Carolina Community College and eventually become an ultrasound technician. The Gentile’s have an eight-month-old son to support, as well.
HireHeroesUSA Chief Operating Officer Nathan Smith said stories like Anthony Gentile’s are common among service members in the Wounded Warrior Battalion preparing to separate from the military.
With an unemployment rate between 25 and 30 percentmore than three times the national unemployment ratethe Department of Defense, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and organizations like HireHeroesUSA quickly recognized the need for more transition assistance for veterans, Smith said.
HireHeroesUSA, a small non-profit organization, only had the manpower to target a small portion of the more than 160,000 service members transitioning out of the military each year. As a result, they chose to focus on the wounded, ill and injured first, Smith said.
“With most of these (wounded warrior) Marines, they’re being medically separated or retired against their will,” Smith said. “Many of them have post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, short term memory loss and physical disabilities; and I think a lot of that eats away at their confidence. Going out and finding work, it’s just like dating, it has so much to do with your confidence and how you present yourself.”
He added the main goal of the two-day workshop was to give the wounded, ill and injured Marines a professionally revised resume that accurately reflected their value to a potential employer, as well as the confidence necessary to interview and self-market, and the basic tools used to plan their own job search strategy.
“If they can leave with those skill sets, with a good resume, the idea of what they want to do and then the skills to actually to implement their plan, then we’ve done our job,” Smith said.
The Marines who attended the workshop will have a leg up on their competitors at the upcoming Career Opportunity Day, also at the USO and also hosted by HireHeroesUSA, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program.
The Career Opportunity Day will be unlike a traditional job fair, in that only a maximum of 75 transitioning service members and their spouses will be allowed to attend the event, which will have 15 employers with open positions, looking to hire.
The fair will be Wednesday Sept. 12 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the USO at 9 Tallman St. in downtown Jacksonville.
For more information on the fair, call the Jacksonville USO at 910-455-3411.
Contact Daily News Military Reporter Amanda Wilcox at 910-219-8453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.