San Diego County’s commitment to the local veterans community, one of the largest in the nation, continues to grow. Recognizing the opportunity to capture the talents and resources of this group, the County’s Human Resources Department launched the Veterans Outreach Program and has already seen results.
“We are serious about hiring veterans,” said Tim Mathues, the County’s veterans outreach coordinator. Having served in Vietnam himself, Mathues walks the walk and talks the talks to those who have worn the uniform. “I’ve been there and I know it’s not an easy task to transition from military life to civilian life,” he said.
Mathues has spoken to more than 8,100 veterans and their spouses about employment opportunities with the County since the launch of the program in March 2014. The reality is that more than 500 military men and women transition out of service into their civilian life each month from the largest bases in the area.
Mathues focuses on reaching out to the local military community to provide veterans and soon to be veterans with the resources and tools necessary to apply for jobs with the County. He has attended more than 100 veteran-related events including career fairs, employer panels and veteran networking events.
The program has established relationships with the seven major military bases throughout the County, and Mathues has spoken at sessions for the Marines’ Transition Readiness Seminar and the Navy’s Transition GPS, formerly called Transition Assistance Program.
When the program started, the County began tracking how many new hires were veterans. In the first three quarters, the number moved from 12 percent to 13 percent. The upward trend is a clear sign that the outreach program is working to find the best candidates.
“Veterans have valuable skills and training acquired in service that often naturally fit positions and career paths within the County,” said Susan Brazeau, the County’s director of human resources.
In addition to the veterans outreach efforts, Civil Service rules give applicants preferential credits for military service. The credit points are applied to successful candidates’ final job application scores. Mathues said the purpose is to further assist qualified applicants in transitioning from military to civilian careers with the County. This benefit is also given to former service members with service-connected disabilities and their spouses.
Karen Wells, a human resources analyst, benefited from the veterans preference points offered by the County. Wells, a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer, was one of 86,789 job applicants last year. She joined the County as a human resources assistant in March 2014 and brought with her 22 years of experience as a career counselor in the Navy.
Wells admits that applying for a job after a career in the military can be tough. She said that just getting a resume together that the County or a civilian company would understand can be a challenge. She urged veterans to take advantage of programs offered by the military, Veterans Affairs and other service providers such as the County’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs.
“My best advice is to start your job search early, be patient and don’t take no for an answer,” she said. “Ask questions, find out what you are missing, keep an open mind and apply to a variety of positions you feel qualified for.”
The commitment to service members got another boost when County Chairman Bill Horn declared 2015 the “Year of the Veteran” during his State of the County Address in February. Horn said San Diego County is home to over 1 million veterans, active duty and their families – nearly one-third of the population.
“As a county and as a community we have a responsibility to take care of our veterans,” Horn, a Vietnam veteran, said in his speech.
Horn is looking to expand services available to local veterans. He cited the opening of a Military & Veterans Resource Center at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido this summer as the next big step. He hopes the center serves as a “one-stop shop for veteran services.”
Additionally, the County’s Military and Veteran Affairs office provides professional services and counseling for military veterans and their dependents and survivors who are entitled to benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the State of California, and other agencies. This service is open to employees and all County residents. The office provides assistance with filing requests for military records, disability claims, education benefits, and benefits counseling.
For a complete list of job openings with the County, visit Human Resources online.