The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 presented a myriad of issues for businesses and individuals across the country and around the world. As a result of lockdowns, restrictions, and the lack of in-person interactions, businesses and organizations were forced to adapt and innovate to overcome these challenges.
American Veterans (AMVETS) Chief Medical Executive, Cherissa Jackson, had a growing concern around the alarming rise in depression and suicide among the veteran population during the pandemic.
According to Ms. Jackson, homelessness and unemployment are leading contributors to suicides among veterans. The COVID-19 pandemic led to higher homelessness rates and unemployment, which correlated to increased suicide rates. As a champion of women veterans, Jackson had held numerous roundtables and events in the past designed to help women veterans find success in their lives post-military service.
She says, “I was limited during the pandemic but wanted to find a way to help women veterans who were struggling. One of the greatest ways we can help someone struggling to find meaning and purpose in their life is to help them gain meaningful employment.”
Because of her lack of in-person options, Cherissa turned to MilitaryHire. “I shared my concerns with MilitaryHire, and because of our great working relationship, they were very eager and willing to help.”
The Pilot Program
Cherissa worked with Jeff Finefrock, CEO of MilitaryHire, to develop a three-month pilot program that would help fifty women veterans find employment utilizing the militaryhire.com platform.
Finefrock said, “It was a natural fit between our organizations during a time when many veterans were struggling because of COVID to find jobs. We were excited to be able to help in a unique and meaningful way.”
The AMVETS team, led by Jackson, contacted approximately four hundred women veterans with the goal to enroll fifty of them into the pilot and the ultimate goal of successfully finding all fifty participants jobs. “We would have loved to help more women veterans find employment, but budget constraints only allowed for fifty participants as part of this initial pilot,” said Jackson.
MilitaryHire provided Jackson with a list of four hundred women veterans who had come to militaryhire.com seeking employment. Jackson and her team then sent a short questionnaire to all four hundred women with a requirement to return within 48-hours. Of those that submitted, fifty were selected to participate. Of those fifty, there was a mix of experience and specializations.
The fifty participants were provided resources from both AMVETS and MilitaryHire above and beyond what they would have had seeking jobs on their own, including:
- Resume Writing
- Individual coaching from Vanessa Maddox, a professional Human Resources and recruiting consultant
- Personalized interview preparation
“We wanted these women veterans to have every resource we had available to help them find success in their search for employment,” said Jackson.
All fifty participants were sent two to three jobs that Vanessa and Military Hire had identified as ideal matches.
Of those fifty, ten applied to one or more of those jobs.
Of the ten that applied, eight of them utilized the career center and personalized coaching services.
Due to a lack of visibility beyond the application and coaching, the AMVETS and MilitaryHire teams could not successfully confirm how many of those women who applied were offered positions.
While the overall results weren’t what AMVETS or MilitaryHire had hoped they would be, the program successfully highlighted several more significant issues concerning women veterans:
- Many of the women who were contacted and asked to participate didn’t self-identify as veterans even though they had served honorably. They felt that because they didn’t retire or serve during wartime, they weren’t veterans.
- Many of the women who participated and were sent jobs chose not to pursue the employment opportunities due to a lack of confidence in their abilities.
- Many women are leaving the military unprepared to make a successful transition to civilian life and employment.
According to Vanessa Maddox, “Many of the women with whom I spoke lacked confidence, didn’t consider themselves veterans, and lacked any real readiness or mentorship as it related to employment after their military service.”
Partnerships like the one between MilitaryHire and AMVETS contribute to increased awareness of veterans’ realities post-separation from service and highlight areas for improvement in finding meaningful employment.
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