HONOLULU — Jarod Myers spoke Thursday to the group of soon-to-be veterans at the Hale Koa Hotel about the intricacies of making a transition from the military to the civilian job world from the standpoint of an employment-savvy job-seeker who's been there, done that — many times.
- Do put together a very thorough LinkedIn page, with your degree or certification right after your name.
- Don't pigeonhole your salary during an interview by revealing what you think is a reasonable range.
- Don't leave questionable material on your Facebook page, because a hiring manager will check.
It's been a lengthy personal journey for the 30-year-old Myers since the dark days that followed a deployment from Schofield Barracks to Iraq and the loss of a close friend in 2004.
But it's also been his close working relationship with veterans that helped him get his life back on track.
"The military did a damn good job training me, but my heart wasn't trained for what I experienced," said the former "mortarman." "So I really had to find my own path, and in doing that I found that giving back to the military and kind of finding my purpose in life has really been the biggest benefit to me above and beyond taking a pill or putting myself in a class talking about my problems."
Myers was a 20-year-old Army specialist when his friend Pfc. John D. Amos II was killed by a suicide car bomber in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Injured in the blast, Myers was sent to a Baghdad hospital where he saw 21 bloodied Marines arrive from fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi. Eight of them died.
Myers, who lives in Texas, eventually checked into a 13-week residential treatment program.
In 2009 he became a veterans constituent liaison for a U.S. representative. That was followed by jobs as the TexVet Initiative assistant manager and in other veterans outreach capacities.
In 2011 he founded the nonprofit Centurion Military Alliance to build a better bridge between the military and civilian jobs.
"I had to find a purpose," he said.
The program brings together colleges, companies, hiring managers and the expertise of Myers and his wife, Chaunte, who served on active duty in the Air Force and is still a reservist.
Myers said he gained his jobs knowledge through trial and error — with a whole lot of the latter.
"A lot of ‘nos,'" he recalls. "A lot of no phone calls."
As of January 2013 roughly 844,000 veterans were unemployed and looking for work, according to the White House.
Each year the military separates between 240,000 and 360,000 service members. About 15 attended the free sessions put on Thursday by Centurion.
Marine Staff Sgt. Luis Santiago, 38, who's with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, said he attended to be proactive as he looks ahead to leaving the Marines after 20 years next summer.
"This is more info than what the military gets," he said.
Centurion has held seminars in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Washington state.
The session at the Hale Koa was Myers' first trip back to Hawaii since getting out of the Army in 2005.
He visited a memorial marker for his friend Amos at Schofield.
"While there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him and that day, I'm certainly far above where I was and where I allowed myself to be given the situation that happened," Myers said. "It's taken 10 years to overcome the setback that I put myself in."