Colorado Springs hospital seeks former military as employees

By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 16, 2016

A Colorado Springs hospital chain is locking arms with the Army to give former troops a boost on the civilian job market.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services inked an agreement last week with Army officials, agreeing to give former soldiers a guaranteed interview for jobs under the "Partnership for Youth Success."

Penrose-St. Francis boss Margaret Sabin said giving GIs an easier path to jobs was an easy move for the hospitals, which already have veterans accounting for 10 percent of their workforce.

The partnership is part of a wider Army push to get better job prospects for soldiers heading to civilian life. At Fort Carson alone, more than 500 soldiers a month shed their uniforms when their enlistments expire.

That turnover costs the Pentagon in unemployment claims, with jobless payments costing the Defense Department an estimated $1 billion a year.

"This partnership is one way we can help our soldiers continue to achieve success after they leave the Army," said Lt. Col. Matthew Mapes, who runs a regional recruiting battalion that aims to bring in new soldiers with medical skills.

The Army this year has used its program to put veterans in civilian jobs as a recruiting tool, showing recruits and their parents that life after the Army can be lucrative.

The partnership could pay off for Penrose-St. Francis, too.

Medical care providers are battling to overcome shortages of skilled caregivers, especially nurses. The federal Department of Health and Human Services estimates 1 million new nurses will be needed in the workforce by 2025.

In addition to putting medical personnel into the civilian jobs, the Army is also offering soldiers in other fields the opportunity to train for medical jobs before they leave the service, Mapes said.

"Individuals who are interested in getting specialized training will receive that training while still in the U.S. Army," Mapes said.

Sabin said getting troops into her hospitals also means getting better workers.

"The values of the Army and the values of Penrose-St. Francis are very similar," she said.

Mapes said the Army is looking for other businesses to give soldiers a first look for jobs.

To learn more, visit .

Sabin said she's sold on the idea.

"I'm surprised more companies aren't clamoring to get on board," she said.

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