Local companies large and small are hiring unemployed veterans wherever they can – some in new efforts and others through established programs.
Chem-Dry, a national carpet-cleaning firm, and Apollo Safety Inc., a veteran-owned, Fall River-based company specializing in safety products and services, have both recently targeted Rhode Island vets. Yet, companies like General Dynamics Electric Boat in the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, CVS Caremark Corp. in Woonsocket and the Cintas Corp., with offices in Cumberland, and headquarters in Cincinnati, have longstanding practices targeting veterans, and in EB’s case, a relatively new internship program aimed at training and hiring veterans.
According to James White, veterans’ coordinator with the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, 1,436 veterans received staff assistance or used online services for the most recent period available, from April 1, 2013, to March 31 of this year. While that number may not seem particularly large, White says it is the tip of the iceberg. Erik Wallin, executive director of Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, a nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income veterans, confirmed that, as did Andrew Careau, the Cintas general manager in Cumberland.
“For those companies that have open positions, the hope is that they do have active veteran outreach and genuine interest in hiring them, because if you look at [the veterans’] demographic, they have a higher unemployment rate – veterans exiting the military – than anybody else,” Careau said.
Veterans have transferable skills in everything from leadership, integrity and a strong work ethic to logistics and management, spokespersons at all of these companies said.
At EB, the submarine builder, Jason Vlaun, manager of human resources, said, “We find that there’s a lot of transferrable skills with former military.”
EB partners with DLT and the Governor’s Workforce Board to offer internships, a program that yields dividends for both the participants and the company, Vlaun said.
In the summer of 2013, 10 veterans participated in a 12-week internship program for ship-fitting and machining, with EB hiring nine and the other person finding work elsewhere, Vlaun said. In the fall, another eight veterans trained in ship-fitting and welding and EB hired them all. This summer, the company hopes to train up to 13 more veterans and could offer them work, he said.