By: Aubrey Thomson
Last Updated: May 26, 2021
After serving in the military, a huge percentage of veterans are met with significant barriers to employment when they return to civilian life. WorkOne is committed to helping individuals from a variety of backgrounds find work. The Center of Workforce Innovations serves as the oversight organization of nine WorkOne offices throughout Northwest Indiana.
“The WorkOne offices serve job seekers, assisting with resume development, job searching, and career advisement,” said Communications Manager Barb Grimsgard. “Employers can use the WorkOne for job postings, screenings, assistance with hiring events, and more.”
The staff members that are part of WorkOne who are specifically dedicated to helping veterans and their spouses find work are called Vet Reps. WorkOne is a federally-funded program, and the Vet Reps and their services are part of this budget.
Grimsgard revealed that all Vet Reps are veterans themselves who have helped vets transition into civilian life and are more apt to understand and translate military terminology for resumes and job searches. Vet Reps will often assist their client with “de-militarizing” their resumes, which Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Chris Basile said means they get rid of military jargon to make vets more marketable.
“VetReps can come in and take, for instance, an infantryman, and instead of saying an infantryman is out there to protect the frontline, they can say they are in charge of a squad of people, they demonstrate leadership abilities, and they’re accountable for hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment,” Basile said. “We try to break it down to where an employer can understand it.”
Reframing a veterans’ skills is certainly beneficial to an employer’s understanding of a veteran’s skillset, but Basile has found that this can also instill new confidence in veterans themselves.
Sometimes a veteran will sit there and say, ‘Well, I don’t have that skillset,’ or, ‘I’m not that good.’ We can give them specific testing and sometimes you see the light on their face, and they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize I know that much,’ and that’s a good feeling,” Basile said.
Once veterans’ resumes are completed, Vet Reps will work through WorkOne Business Services, WorkOne Indiana Career Connect, Indeed, Job Fairs, and virtual hiring events to connect vets with employers. With resumes revitalized to showcase all that veterans have to offer, Grimsgard shared that many employers jump on the opportunity to hire a vet. “There are many employers who seek out veterans because of their specific skills and work ethic,” Grimsgard said.
Regional Manager Becky Fry remarked that employers benefit from hiring veterans because they are well-organized, focused, easy to direct, punctual, honest, and detail-oriented. In addition to these attractive qualities, employers can also make extra money by hiring veterans. “There’s a tax credit called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and that is a federal tax credit of up to $9,600 per employee,” Fry said. “That would be available to employers who hire individuals from certain targeted groups, and veterans are one of those targeted groups that consistently face barriers to employment. It’s something that is available to any employer.”
Employers who would like to apply for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit should note that veteran employees must work for 120 hours before employers are eligible to file for that tax credit. There is no limit to the number of individuals that employers can hire to qualify for that tax credit, and the form has to be submitted within the first 28 days of hiring a vet.
Basile has seen just how impactful WorkOne’s Vet Rep services can be. He has seen a homeless veteran find employment and make strides toward success and community involvement, while another veteran who lost his job in Illinois came to Indiana and secured a position where he made $20,000 more than his previous job.
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