Ignacio Batista is looking for work. He has 20 years of experience in the army, most of it in military logistics. He has worked in transportation, distribution, procurement, supply management, and container movement. He knows software and warehouse systems. And now he wants to work for you. "Being in the military, I have gained leadership skills and have experience in many aspects of logistics," he says.
Batista is one of many members of our military transitioning to civilian life. And today, he was a panelist on the Vets to WERC presentation at the annual Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) conference being held through Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas. The VETs To WERC program aims to bring together military veterans with companies needing their skills. Legacy Supply Chain Services, WERC, and DC Velocity began the initiative last year.
Army Master Sergeant Adam Martinez was in a similar position a year ago when he was transitioning out of the military and began working with Vets to WERC. Today, Martinez is a senior manager with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He continues to help veterans find placement in the civilian sector.
"Vets to WERC exposes the industry to talent, and visa versa," says Martinez. "We have a large number of businesses and decision makers here under one roof at WERC." He says that last year he and other members of the Vets to WERC team aimed to educate the industry on the skill sets found in veterans. Now in its second year, the initiative is helping employers become ready to hire and develop this underutilized talent pool.
Chris Andrews is another army veteran who successfully transitioned to civilian life in 2014. He retired then as a Lieutenant Colonel, having served for 26 years, including time as a director of logistics for a major command in the Pacific Theater. He also spoke at the conference.
"Upon retiring, I wanted to take my talents and find a good partnership. I had been part of one great team and wanted to be a part of another great team—one that had the values I had shared in for the past 26 years," he says.
Today, Andrews is distribution and logistics center manager for Benjamin Moore & Co., a well-known producer of premium paint products. He says that some of the best logisticians in the world are found in the military. They learn everything from regional supply to global logistics, and offer skills that encompass planning, execution of the plan, anticipating change, flexibility, agility, and decision making, among others.
This year Vets to WERC is also partnering with Miligistix LLC, a talent consulting firm that helps companies find and hire transitioning military personnel. Miligistix founder Amanda Veinott says the goal is to get as many veterans into gainful careers as is possible. "Supply chain and logistics are natural fits for veterans," she says. "They have an uncanny ability to identify problems and develop solutions."
She adds that military training has also taught them to follow safe practices, so hiring vets in many roles can lead to safer work environments.
"Veterans also have the ability to receive and execute instructions as well as possess a solid work ethic. They show up and are ready to work," adds Jennifer Goodman, director of programs and operations at Miligistix.
Keys to success in placing veterans into corporate positions include matching skills to available tasks, as well as providing a career path and not simply a job. Employers should also help veterans acclimate to the company's work culture. Miligistix assists companies with training programs to provide the right cultural fit. "We help companies to be 'veteran-ready'—to build, grow, and develop them," says Veinott. "Being veteran-ready is much more than simply being veteran-friendly."