SVG Veterans in Production Update: Industry Takes Steps to Help Those Who Serve

There have recently been a number of developments with respect to those looking to hire veterans for jobs in sports production and also veterans looking to get into the business. This week, the Northeast Technical Training Group (NTTG), led by President/CEO Jim Boston (who co-authored the book TV on Wheels with NEP CTO George Hoover) announced NEP’s $1 million donation of equipment that will be used to provide technical training to qualified veterans living in the Auburn, Quincy, and Susanville areas of California. The training will not only help students get into the television industry but also help them land jobs in systems integration, project management, IT networking, and other technical fields. The course will use TV on Wheels as its primary textbook.

In addition, SVG Advisory Board Member Mike Rokosa has led SVG’s efforts to expand its reach with veterans. Rokosa brought together Ally Rogers, public affairs coordinator, U.S. Army Reserve, with ProductionHUB, the company that provides the back engine for SVG’s job-resources section. As a result of the meeting with ProductionHUB’s Katrina De Leon, ProductionHUB enhanced its offering for veterans in four ways: the ability for prospective employers to mark a job posting as being veteran-friendly, the ability for a veteran to filter a job search for veteran-friendly postings, a place where a veteran can post a personal profile; and  a filter for searching the personal profiles of veterans only. In addition veterans can post a listing for free, something not available to other production professionals.

If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who would like to be listed, please have him or her CLICK HERE. The code for free registration is SVGVETS.

SVG’s Ken Kerschbaumer also had a chance to chat with Travis W. Bartholomew from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Bartholomew is director, Outreach Services, Office for Reintegration Programs. He took part in a quick question-and-answer session with SVG via e-mail over the holidays.

Many of our members already see the value of hiring veterans and reservists. What do you see as the strengths of those who have served in the military? Do you distinguish differences between those from different branches in terms of strengths?
Veterans and reservists bring a wide variety of skills to bear in the workplace. Those skills, combined with their critical thinking and experience in dealing with complex situations, create a mature employee who can tackle just about anything an employer might send their way.

All branches of the military have similar traditions, training, and cultures. Of course, there are some differences, but the most significant differences reveal themselves in each veteran’s or reservist’s area of training. A military-intelligence analyst and a logistics technician bring very different but nonetheless marketable skills to the table.

Obviously, there are differences between reservists and veterans; some employers are concerned about reservists’ being shipped out for duty and losing a resource. Is that a fair assessment? How can they “sleep easy” when hiring a reservist? How can the reservist sleep easy, as well, as it is a two-way street?
In today’s security environment, employers’ concerns about a reservist being called to active duty are certainly understandable. Since 9/11, more than 903,000 reservists have been activated to support missions around the globe. Despite these record-breaking numbers, there have been relatively few employment conflicts, thanks to ongoing efforts to educate reservists about their responsibilities to their civilian employers.

The Department of Defense [DoD] takes this issue very seriously. Employer support of reservists is vital to the maintenance of our all-volunteer force and our national-security strategy. The Department’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) has been in place since 1972 and focuses on educating reservists and employers on their mutual responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. ESGR also recognizes employers who go above and beyond to support their reservist employees with a variety of awards, including the annual Secretary of Defense Freedom Award.

One of the challenges is really matching up the right veteran with the right job and helping the employer and veteran (or reservist) find each other. How can groups like SVG, which are relatively small compared with massive corporations, do a better job of playing “matchmaker”? How can the human-resources departments within our member companies (like CBS, Fox Sports, NFL, Disney) do a better job of matching veterans with a job successfully?
There is a plethora of veteran-hiring initiatives out there, but many of them lack that personal touch and follow-up that can make or break a great hiring opportunity. In recognition of this, and the unique employment needs of reservists, the Army Reserve started the Employment Partnership program in 2008. It has evolved into the Army Reserve Private Public Partnership, and the DoD launched the Hero2Hired program in 2011 to provide support to all military branches.

These two programs work hand-in-hand with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to support the employment needs of reservists and veterans. The VA’s eBenefits Employment Center provides the online platform for employers and potential employees to connect, while Army Reserve and DoD field staff throughout the nation provide personal assistance and case management that help see veterans, reservists, and employers (no matter their size) through the process.

If there are two equal candidates, a veteran and a civilian, what type of incentives does the government offer to tip the scale and help those who serve get an advantage?
The Department of Veterans Affairs manages the Special Employer Incentives (SEI) program, which provides assistance to employers who hire veterans. The SEI program connects qualified veterans with specific roles in employers’ organizations. The program allows employers to hire a qualified trainee at an apprenticeship wage and improves stability by encouraging veterans to stay on at their organization. Employers are reimbursed for up to half the veteran’s salary to cover certain supplies and equipment, additional instruction expenses, and any loss of production.

Any other points you wanted to make with respect to hiring a veteran and/or reservist?
As a veteran and reservist myself, I am probably biased, but I can say, without a doubt, my military experience has matured me beyond my peers and allowed me to excel in my civilian career. The skills and knowledge gained through training, deployments, and working with people from all walks of life afford me wondrous advantages in addressing daily tasks and sensitive or crisis situations. I sincerely believe employers who value good work ethics and loyalty are wise to seek out and hire veterans and reservists.