By Tina C. Stillions, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) — The assistant secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs sponsored the third annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference, Oct. 29-30.
“They are dependable and everything they do is for the team,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Michael P. Barrett in opening remarks. “The wounded warrior talent pool is diverse and makes for a compelling business case.”
The event was co-hosted by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Naval Air Systems Command. The two-day conference was a combined effort to promote education and training, career development and long-term employment and support for wounded, ill and injured service members and disabled veterans.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Hiring our Nation’s Heroes – Rise to the Challenge. Diversify your Workforce!” The conference brought together government, military and industry leaders, hiring managers and recruiters from more than 50 organizations.
Though several of the conference’s speakers were unable to attend due to severe storms on the East Coast, the mood was positive and the message clear: hiring wounded warriors adds value to any organization.
“We hire more than 700 people a year and require our leadership to take action and set targets for the hiring of wounded warriors,” said Rod Smith, SPAWAR’s deputy commander. “In order to do that, we’ve had to change the culture within the organization. Getting high-quality people makes us a better organization and, though our efforts are just starting, I expect to see much more success in the future.”
Brian Persons, NAVSEA’s executive director, said having the three big Navy systems commands at the event was significant because combined the organizations are a centroid of opportunity for wounded warriors looking for employment. He also acknowledged the difficulty many veterans face maneuvering the bureaucratic hiring system.
“You can’t do this by yourself,” said Persons. “It’s the network of people working together that make this happen.”
Workshops and panels were available to those looking for work and covered a wide range of topics, including understanding military wounded warrior programs, career assessment and goal setting to starting your own business, maneuvering the federal hiring process and apprenticeships, internships and training.
“Our goal is to encourage wounded warriors to pursue education and careers in robotics, engineering and science,” said Michael Anderson, a former Marine who spearheads the Wounded Warrior Robotics Internship Program at SPAWAR System Center Pacific. “We can provide mentoring and unpaid internships to veterans while they are awaiting their disability rating, which we also hope helps foster an interest in technology and encourages networking.”
About three million veterans reported having a service-connected disability, which compounds the difficulty for many veterans looking for work. However, the good news according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is that the jobless rate for all veterans has fallen from 8.3 percent in August 2011 to 6.6 percent now, which is the lowest rate in more than three years and below the national unemployment rate of 8.1 percent. The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans is still hovering around 10.9 percent.
Despite the higher unemployment figures for the nation’s Gulf War II-era veterans, the Navy’s goal of raising awareness and increasing the hiring of wounded warriors is having an impact.
“I was 18 years old when I entered the Marine Corps and deployed four times to the Middle East,” said Victor Hernandez, a former Marine who was injured when an improvised explosive device ripped apart his mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle near Fallujah, Iraq in 2006. “After leaving active duty because of my injury, my primary job role became perusing a higher education. I recently finished the Executive MBA Program at Pepperdine University and plan on attending law school.”
Hernandez was discharged from the Marine Corps and received the Naval Achievement Medal with a Combat “V” for valor for his service. He is currently a contract specialist with the Naval Health Research Center at Naval Base Point Loma, Calif.
“I think there are a lot of veterans out there who may not be aware of what’s available to them or unsure of where to go to get the information they need,” said Hernandez. “Conferences like this are invaluable because they not only offer hope but they also provide a sort of one-stop resource for anyone needing information on employment, benefits, education and training opportunities.”
For many wounded, ill and injured service members and disabled veterans, finding viable employment is a challenge. The Department of Navy (DoN) established the Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Initiative to help coordinate wounded warrior employment efforts and ensure wounded warriors have access to available education, training and employment opportunities and resources. Since last year’s conference, the DoN has hired 9,478 veterans, including 1,647 returning service members with a 30 percent or higher disability rating.
“We’ve set it up so you can’t ignore a wounded warrior resume at SPAWAR, and we are doing that by making sure we maximize all available opportunities,” said Smith. “We expose all wounded warrior resumes, track metrics and are constantly looking at ways to facilitate hiring, get feedback and improve the whole process. When a veteran, and especially a wounded veteran, hangs up their uniform, we have a moral obligation as a nation to help them reintegrate back into the workforce.”
The Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference is now in its third year. The purpose of the conference is to bring together government, military and industry leaders in a venue to raise awareness about hiring and supporting wounded warriors in the workplace. Leaders and organizations provide recommendations and strategies to successfully transition veterans into their workforce, including hiring, training, development and retention. It is a forum to promote career development, long-term employment, education and training for the nation’s heroes.
- NSWC Port Hueneme Supports Wounded Warrior Career Fair (vcstar.com)
- Special Veterans Day Salute: The Wounded Warrior Experience Brings Together Inspiring Stories of Courage (sacbee.com)
- Winnefeld: Returning Veterans Need Nation’s Support (defense.gov)
by Desiree Palacios
Air Force News Service
10/25/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force’s only female four-star general used examples from her three-decade-plus career to show the tremendous progress of women in the military during a gala dinner celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Wolfenbarger was among the first group of women to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, in 1980, and told the audience of former and current military women that there was a great fear in the beginning that standards would somehow be lowered by allowing women to attend the service academies.
“So, I, along with my female classmates, spent four years proving that the standards, in fact, would not have to be lowered, and that women could not only survive, but actually thrive in that very challenging environment,” said Wolfenbarger.
In June of 1976, Wolfenbarger and 156 women entered the Air Force Academy as the first female cadets in its history. She remembers that first day as a sobering introduction into how the next four years would unfold. “I remember…walking along a hallway, chit-chatting with another female when an upper classman stopped us and physically threw us against the wall. He got within inches of our faces and yelled, ‘What the hell are you doing talking in my hallway? …It’s safe to say that during the whole first summer I was in a state of shock.”
Wolfenbarger said that people are often curious about the number of women who enrolled versus those who ultimately graduated from that first class. She said that out of more than 150, 97 would go on to graduate, about 10 percent of the class. “Women had the same attrition rate as was traditional with all-male classes.”
Sometimes asked whether she would go through it all again, Wolfenbarger answers with a resounding yes. “It took me a while after graduation to crystalize in my mind the value of the Academy experience. The Academy…really stretched me mentally, emotionally and physically and I came out the other side realizing that I was far more capable than I ever thought I was. That knowledge brought with it a self confidence that I have relied on throughout my military career, as well as in my personal life.”
But as much as a trailblazer as she’s been, Wolfenbarger has wanted to be recognized, not for her accomplishments as a woman, but for simply working hard and accomplishing the mission.
“I served in the acquisition business for most of my 30 plus years. I’ve had the good fortune to work on the leading edge fighter, bomber and transport aircraft programs in the Air Force. I worked on the F/A-22 for eight-plus years, the B-2 bomber for five-plus years, including time as director of the program. I was also director of the C-17 program for two and a half years. I spent time at the Pentagon as the first female and first non-fighter pilot lead F-22 program element monitor for three years.”
She went on to tell the audience of more than 300 about assignments that took her to the top levels of Air Force acquisition, both at the Pentagon and later at the Air Force Materiel Command where served as the vice commander for close to two years, before taking the role in the Pentagon as the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.
“So what did I learn? I may not always have a choice in what life brings, but I do have a choice in how I respond. I can choose to be positive or negative – and I’ve learned to consciously choose in every case to react in the most positive manner I can.”
Thanking the audience for their service, some dating back to World War II, Wolfenbarger said that while women have doubled their ranks in the Air Force, there’s still room for improvement.
“The beautiful and thought-provoking ‘Women in Military Service for America Memorial’ has for the last 15 years served as a symbol of national gratitude in behalf of each of us, the more than 2 million female veterans, active duty, Guard and Reserve who, not only survived military service, but thrived.”
- Fallen military women honored at Arlington National Cemetery (wjla.com)
- March to Honor Fallen Military Women at Arlington National Cemetery (washington.cbslocal.com)
- Service Members, Vets Celebrate Military Legacy of Women (defense.gov)
The Navy will christen its newest attack submarine Minnesota, Saturday, Oct. 27, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Va.
Adm. Kirk Donald, Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Ellen Roughead, wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and a Minnesota native, will serve as ship’s sponsor and break a champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull, and officially christen the ship ‘Minnesota.’
Minnesota, the 10th ship of the Virginia class is named in honor of the state’s citizens and their continued support to our nation’s military. Minnesota has a long tradition of honoring its veterans of wars past and present. The state is proud to be home to 46 Medal of Honor recipients that span from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.
“There is a special relationship between a state and its namesake ship,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “Naming this submarine Minnesota not only salutes the proud history of military support and contributions made by the people of Minnesota, but will also serve as a testament to the U.S. Navy’s enduring bond with the great state of Minnesota for decades to come.”
This will be the third ship to bear the state name. The first USS Minnesota, a sailing steam frigate, was commissioned in 1857 and served during the Civil War, remaining in service until her decommissioning in 1898. The second Minnesota was commissioned in 1907. On Dec. 16, 1907, she departed Hampton Roads as one of the 16 battleships of the Great White Fleet sent by then-President Theodore Roosevelt on a voyage around the world. She continued her service through World War I, and was decommissioned in 1921.
Minnesota will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. She will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable her to meet the Navy’s multi-mission requirements.
Designated SSN 783, Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Capable of operating in both the world’s shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Minnesota will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
The 7,800-ton Minnesota is built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries. A crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the 377-foot long, 34-foot beam vessel, which will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
To view the ceremony via live webcast, please go to: http://www.livestream.com/usnavy
- US Navy To Christen Submarine Minnesota (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- NNS Ships Two Virginia-Class Submarine Modules to General Dynamics (USA) (worldmaritimenews.com)
- Navy to Christen Amphibious Assault Ship ‘America’ (worldmaritimenews.com)