HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — When members of the U.S. military return to civilian life, it can be difficult finding a job. One Huntsville nonprofit is tackling this issue by connecting veterans with businesses.
Each veteran has a different story, including John Cofield and Matt Clark.
“I joined the U.S. Army in 1976,” said Cofield. “I served seven years as an Airborne Ranger at Fort Lewis. Most of that with the Second Ranger Battalion.”
“I enlisted when I was 18 as an infantryman in the marines and spent four years doing that,” said Clark. “Infantry assaultman with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines stationed in Kaneohe, Hawaii.”
The toughest assignment for Clark and Cofield after leaving the military was finding a job.
Cofield returned to civilian life in 1983.
“At that time, there were no services for veterans whatsoever and it was pretty much the post-Vietnam era and veterans were kind of looked down on and frowned on,” he said. “People didn’t want to hire somebody who was a veteran, especially in combat arms because they worried that we would be a lunatic or something like that.”
While it is a different time now, it can still be hard for some vets to find work.
When Clark returned to civilian life, he went back to school and studied at the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he received two degrees: one in political science and one in history.
“In Huntsville, with no experience, it is extremely difficult to get past that resume to interview phase with a lot of companies for entry-level positions,” he said.
Both Clark and Cofield credit Still Serving Veterans with helping them find their current jobs at EOS Defense Systems. SSV works closely with companies in the area to help vets get hired.
1/3 of EOS Defense Systems’ employees are veterans and actually seek them out for employment. They know the worth and value a veteran can bring.
Cofield said the process of applying and getting the job went smoothly. “From the day I interviewed to the day I was hired was probably four to five days.”
“The folks at SSV actually really did help me out as far as the networking, knowing who was looking for talent, and knowing who I’d work well with,” said Clark.
Transitioning from serving our country to serving in the workforce is made easier for those who answer the call, with help from groups like Still Serving Veterans.
On their website, SSV says: “We’re here to help Veterans and their families locate meaningful employment, access their VA benefits, and connect with the resources they need to build civilian lives they love. We serve Veterans, transitioning military service members, members of the National Guard & Reserves and military spouses at no cost.”