Be a Hero – Again |
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Veterans who still wish to serve their country and their fellow soldiers while working among other service members need look no further than the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Of the 300,000 employees in the VA workforce, approximately 30 percent are veterans, and 8.5 percent are service-connected disabled veterans. The VA ranks first among non-defense agencies in the hiring of disabled veterans, and is second to the Department of Defense in overall number of veterans in its workforce. The VA also has a strategic goal of increasing its veteran workforce to 33 percent.
Dennis O. May is the director of the Veterans Employment Coordination Service (VECS), Office of Human Resources Management, Department of Veterans Affairs. He recently designed a service to attract, recruit, and hire veterans within the department, particularly severely injured veterans from operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. His team of nine regional veteran employment coordinators collaborates with more than 160 local veteran employment coordinators at HR offices nationwide to provide direct, hands-on employment assistance to our nation’s veterans. VECS provides resume review, federal application tips, skills and qualifications assessment, placement assistance, case management, training and development counseling, and one-on-one peer counseling. May’s team can help veterans “peel back job announcements” and bring out the attributes that veterans may not think to put on their resumes. VECS was created in 2007.
May came to the VA after a successful Air Force career, retiring as a colonel in 2007. While on active duty, he commanded the 17th Mission Support Squadron, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, which was twice named best mission support squadron in Air Education and Training Command. May served in the Pentagon as Director of the Headquarters Air Force Executive Secretariat as well as Chief of Personnel Issues for the Secretary of the Air Force’s Executive Issues Team.
“We’re not just looking for health care professionals,” May said. “On any given day, we have openings for IT specialists and pretty much anything else that it takes to run an agency as big as the VA. Since we are looking at veterans, it’s easy for us to see what their technical qualifications are. But what’s even better is that we likely know what their core values are.” May indicated that veterans are coveted hires because they generally have a great work ethic and a dedication to integrity, put service before self, and always put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
“Our sole mission is to take care of fellow veterans, to continue to serve them,” May said. “I can’t think of nobler mission. The VA is hiring and the VA wants to hire vets.”