Transitioning back to civilian life can be a difficult time for many veterans and their families. Civilians may not be aware of the unique challenges that veterans face, such as anxiety, unemployment and PTSD. Even for those veterans who are not suffering from the aftermath of combat experiences, there is a military culture mindset which could present challenges when reintegrating into civilian life.
After serving 38 years in the Air National Guard, Dan Irving knows a thing or two about transitioning back into the civilian workforce and the challenges that veterans face.
“Transitioning from military to civilian life can be daunting,” Irving says. “Separation from the military can be an overwhelming personal experience and many veterans are thinking to themselves ‘ok, now what?’ ”
On Thursday, Sept. 22, Irving will be a featured panelist at the Chamber’s Valley Voices event Veterans at Work for an important community conversation about supporting veterans in the workplace and the resources available to help businesses employ and effectively utilize their dynamic skills.
As the Central Arizona Committee Chairman of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Irving focuses on educating employers and business leaders on the value of hiring Guard and Reserve Service members. He understands the unique talents, military experiences and skill sets that veterans and Guard and Reserve Service members bring to the civilian workforce.
“When you look at all the branches of the services, the skills gained from on-the-job military training is truly impressive,” Irving says. “Service members gain a lot of IT and mechanical experience, especially in the aviation field working on jet or aircraft mechanics.”
“Logistics experience among service members also is quite prevalent,” Irving adds. “Deploying service members for troop movements across the world takes a high level of skill and attention. Servicemen and servicewomen who flawlessly execute logistics plans on a mass scale to execute troop movements have the same high level of training that employees working on logistics operations within big companies.”
According to Irving, the military-to-civilian language translation is one of the biggest issues he sees when meeting with former service members who have not been successful getting jobs in the civilian workforce.
“When a service member is released from the military, whether veteran, guard or reserve, they have all sorts of military jargon and experience,” Irving explains. “Unfortunately, many service members don’t how to express that military experience so that employers in the civilian workforce can understand.”
The civilian translation challenge can be overcome. ESGR provides resume assistance and services for Guardsmen and Reservists to translate those military experiences into a civilian employer-friendly language that HR and hiring managers can understand.
“Being able to explain their military experience to civilian employers in a meaningful, easy-to-understand way will help them get the interview as well as land the job,” Irving says.
Established in 1972 under the U.S. Department of Defense, ESGR comprises 4,600 volunteers and promotes cooperation and understanding between the reserve component of service members and civilian employers.
“We’re volunteer-led and mission-driven,” Irving says. “We advocate for employers, service members and service members’ families. This is what makes ESGR unique.”
Irving’s dedication and passion for Guard and Reserve Service members is apparent as he shares why he is participating as a featured panelist at the Chamber’s upcoming Veterans at Work event.
Irving explains, “A large part of what ESGR does is education outreach programs for employers. It’s important for employers and business leaders to understand the tremendous value in hiring, retaining and promoting Guard and Reserve Service members.”
Irving also stresses the importance for employers to understand how Guard and Reserve Service members differ from veterans.
“When you hire Guard and Reserve Service members, it’s a unique situation for an employer and can leave a temporary void in the civilian workforce when they must participate in a two-week training once a year or if they are called to active duty with only a three-day notice or if they get a notice that they will be deployed for 12 months.”
Irving adds, “My job is to support, educate and foster the culture around Guard and Reserve Service members and help employers understand what the commitment is on the front end so when the service member is deployed, everyone’s on the same page. Employers who’ve never had a Guard and Reserve Service member as an employee usually have a lot of questions. Employers that do understand Guard and Reserve Service members have policies in place to address the situation. Ultimately, we want employers to value our service members.”
To learn more about the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve or how you can become involved or volunteer, visit http://www.esgr.mil.