Pairing Veteran Capability with Job Opportunity

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By Lt. Col. Matt Leonard

There have been many civilian news articles published lately about two issues that are near to our hearts. These issues are unemployment rates among veterans / Reserve Component members and the welfare of our Military Families. The first issue obviously has a direct effect on the second. However, what you may not have heard much about from the media is one innovative program which is making a difference, one Service member, one Family at a time. The program is the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces.

The Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces (EPAF) represents the next generation of the EPI program created in 2008 by Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz. Last year Stultz expanded the program to help members of all seven Reserve Components (RCs), their Family members and all veterans. EPAF is able to provide our entire "Military Family" with a connection to career opportunities while also giving civilian employers access to a pool of highly capable potential employees. Simply put, the program is a venue where capability and opportunity meet.

The program provides opportunity via its more than 2,000 signed Employer Partners; each of which has expressed a desire to hire from the ranks. EPAF's Employer Partners not only include large national firms such as General Electric, Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart, but also many smaller firms as well as local, state, and federal agencies.

EPAF's partners are military-friendly. They recognize the capability that Reservists, National Guardsmen and veteran's bring to the workplace. Employer Partners know that EPAF offers trained, skilled and experienced candidates. These employers also fully appreciate the work ethic, leadership abilities, values, and professionalism they are able to readily access through the EPAF Program.

With EPAF's partnerships and other strategic alliances, 700,000 positions are available daily through its state-of-the-art career portal: Opportunities of all types from every industry may be found there. These include nearly 90% of our Nation's Fortune 500 companies. Job seekers, including Family members, may even find internships, part-time and summer jobs through the portal as well. EPAF is also working with several corporations to develop leadership training programs, certification recognition of already obtained skills, and credit for experience to be applied toward pay and benefits.

The Employer Partnership portal's robust search functionality allows job seekers to find the career opportunities in which they are most interested. And once a seeker has built their resume in the portal, a good career opportunity may also find him or her because employer partners can also search the system directly for candidates. In this way the Employer Partnership is like a for the military. However, EPAF goes even further.

This is because the Employer Partnership program is specifically tailored for the military community. It gives our service members access to EPAF's military-friendly partners; the portal's resume builder provides a military occupation translator and menus for entering military experience; and, also, EPAF's entire support staff has military experience.

But the biggest reason EPAF stands apart from being merely an on-line job search is its Program Support Managers (PSMs). The PSMs are geographically dispersed across the U.S. to provide personalized assistance. All of the PSMs have military and civilian sector experience. The relationships they build with the hiring managers of the program's Employer Partners allows the PSMs to render direct, one-on-one assistance to both Service members and employers in matching capabilities with opportunities.

Making a difference for our Veterans

After retiring from the Active Army, Sgt. 1st Class Chris Orr had landed a senior management position near his hometown of Portland, Maine. His new career was looking good. However, only a few months later, in December of 2010, he was unexpectedly laid off. In the midst of this difficult economy he found himself unemployed. Luckily, Orr found an advocate, and opportunity through EPAF.

"I have found that one of the most important assets a job seeker possesses is an advocate: a well-connected person who will take the side of the veteran and introduce him or her to opportunities where he or she may make the most of their military experience and unique personal abilities," says Orr. "I am grateful to say that I found such an advocate in the EPAF program, and more specifically, in Ken Forchielli."

Forchielli is the Employer Partnership PSM for the Northeast. The first thing Forchielli did was encourage Orr to make full use of EP's Career Portal. Orr was impressed with this resource.

"I found the site to be robust, intuitive and user-friendly," says Orr. "It was very helpful to me in narrowing my search within my desired geographical and professional parameters."

Next, Forchielli reviewed Chris's resume and suggested positions for which he should apply. One of those was a National Accounts Portfolio Manager position with Allied Barton Security Services, Inc.

Forchielli went a step further. Through his contacts at Allied Barton he was able to reach out to the company's senior management and recommend Chris as a candidate for the position.

"Although the selection process was a lengthy one, Ken was always available for advice and counseling," says Chris.

On March 22 their efforts paid off. Allied Barton offered the position to Chris and he accepted.

"I can't say enough about the importance and usefulness of the EPAF program to veterans and transitioning military personnel. Quite simply, it is the very best option available."

A Human Capital Strategy for the Reserve Components

The EPAF program not only helps our veterans and military Families, but it also is a part of the human capital strategy of the Army Reserve and the Continuum of Service construct of the Reserve Components. For example, if a Soldier feels they need a break from the Active component, for Family or other personal reasons, the Army Reserve is able to offer career opportunities. "We can ask that Soldier ‘where do you want to live?" says Lt. Gen. Stultz. "We can then say I've got a reserve position for you in that area, and we also have an employer partner there that's looking for people with your skill-set," Stultz adds, "The Soldier is able to continue to serve and earn a Reserve retirement down the road; the Army does not lose its prior human capital investment; and our employer partners gain a trained employee who they know they can count on."

In this way the EPAF program presents a win-win-win situation. Through EPAF the military is able to take care of its people while helping it to retain and grow future leaders. The program also has the potential to have an impact on unemployment rates among RC members and veterans. Lastly, it helps build a skilled workforce for America. Investing in Service members and our Military Families is the right thing to do. And it truly is a positive investment for America.


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