I hope you're excited for our new online platform to collaborate with our peers and colleagues on MFG Veterans!
A part of this group, we have veterans, individuals from manufacturing companies, community leaders, educators, and more. The common thread? We are keenly aware of the importance of veterans in manufacturing, preparing them for future careers, and helping them develop and grow in their current ones.
This year, The Manufacturing Institute launched the Heroes MAKE America program and are proud to say we've successfully implemented our first class at Fort Riley and will be expanding the program across the U.S. This platform will serve as a great way to connect veterans in the workforce, veterans looking to enter the workforce, and manufacturers!
While some of you may know one another, there are still plenty of new names to learn. So, I would love for us to introduce ourselves! Share your name, company/organization, and why you're passionate about advancing veterans in manufacturing.
I'll kick us off: My name is Amy Thomas. I am Senior Director of Programs and Development at The Manufacturing Institute, and lead the Institute's Heroes MAKE America program. For those who aren't familiar, Heroes MAKE America is a career skills training program that gives manufacturers direct access to industry-credentialed and qualified veteran candidates. I've been inspired by what I've seen from the Heroes MAKE America program thus far, and I can't wait to share and see the amazing progress our students will make in their future manufacturing careers.
My name is Carolyn Lee. I am Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, and I am excited to be on this platform with you all to discuss a topic that is critical to manufacturing and our workforce. I have had the pleasure of leading the Institute this year, and I feel that this new community will bring people together to further prepare veterans for a smooth transition into manufacturing careers, as well as make connections across industry sectors. The platform is also designed to help develop existing talent and help current workers grow. As Amy said, at the Institute we're dedicated to preparing veterans for careers in manufacturing. With more than 364,000 open manufacturing jobs today, we know that manufacturers are facing a skills gap, and our nation's transitioning service members could be the solution.
I look forward to the continued discussion in this community, and please reach out to me or my team with any questions.
My name is Rachelle Wolford and I am the Career Skills Program Installation Administrator at Fort Riley. It has been my utmost pleasure to work with Amy Thomas, and the rest of the amazing staff at MI and NAM, to create an opportunity for our transitioning Service Members to funnel themselves into amazing careers in the manufacturing industry. I consider it an honor to talk with soldiers each day about this program in an effort to set them up for post-military success!
In my current role, and as a military spouse, I see on a daily basis the struggles that our veterans face when it comes to translating their military skills into civilian sector jobs. Veterans have a deep sense of responsibility and reliability which is a highly desired quality. As an individual who has been in charge of hiring, I can train someone who is willing to come to work and learn and that is what our Veterans are willing to do. For me, I think that what is desirable about the manufacturing industry, but what people seem to be unaware of, is the plethora of opportunities and specialized areas in manufacturing. Soldiers can go thru the Heroes MAKE America program to get entry level manufacturing certifications but when you couple that with the skills that they acquire in the military, the world really is their oyster.
Despite thirty-three years of service to our nation which included multiple combat and peacekeeping tours, one of the most difficult periods in my life was my transition into the private sector. I was woefully unprepared for my transition, and began wildly shooting resumes down range hoping to hit an unseen target … and received no downrange feedback to aid in my blind, Kentucky-windage-like approach. It wasn't until I put structure to my problem and began using military problem-solving tools that my performance and results improved. Only after properly preparing for combat did I achieve success in my transition "battle." I knew if I won my transition battle, that I had to turn around and help the next transitioning military veteran. So, I captured my lessons learned with the intention of reducing the transition challenges for other military veterans. The Warrior Ethos, which define my values, is the driving force behind my desire to coach and mentor veterans and the cause for my passion to promote veterans in manufacturing. I have been involved with the Heroes MAKE America program since its initiation. I see this as a terrific program for two principal reasons: it will simplify transition by preparing military veterans to enter a manufacturing career field; and, it exposes manufacturers to the military veteran and their strong skills. You see, over 93.5% of all Americans never served in the military. These citizens only see the military as the best fighting force in the world; which it is. But, the personnel who serve in our military are extremely talented and imbued with strong values. These talents and virtues make our military veterans fantastic employees. Already, the current cohort of military veterans are creating the Next Greatest Generation in our nation. Add in the superb training presented in the Heroes Make America program, and these veteran professionals will become the future leaders in the Manufacturing sector.John
My name is Chris Bowers. I am the Military Transitions Coordinator at Washburn University. There is great potential for setting up soldiers, separating from active duty, with success in civilian life. I hope to be an asset in helping those soldiers.
Troy D. Vandenberg Military Talent Acquisition Manager
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My name is David Johnston and I am a Business Improvement Manager at Arconic. At Arconic, we are committed to helping veterans prepare for success in their civilian careers; we are present across the United States at military recruiting fairs and transitioning summits; we direct support to military spouses; make available community volunteering opportunities that extend veterans' service into their communities; and engage newly hired vets in special onboarding experiences. Our aim is to make the best possible use of their skills and create an environment of inclusivity. We support an employee resource group for veterans and non-veteran allies at our locations around the world. In military terms, the veterans ERG is a "force multiplier" for Arconic. We are proud to support the Institute's Heroes MAKE America program, and I am excited to take part in the important discussions in this group.