Veterans group eases way from battlefield to workplace

PHOENIX – Veterans returning from war can struggle to find jobs or be comfortable in a workplace far different than the military, but a veterans group is trying to ease the way.

Combat and other veterans often feel misunderstood, said Staff Sgt. Lisa Cimino of the Arizona Air National Guard.

They may feel “their skills and their abilities aren’t necessarily understood or translated, just because a person on the civilian side didn’t understand the lingo or what exactly went along with that job qualification,” Cimino said.

The cultural disconnect can lead to uncomfortable situations on the job.

“I was a sergeant in the Army and when I’d run a meeting in the military, I could tell them ‘At ease!’ and everybody would be quiet,” said Kelly Anne Beck, lead trainer for the Arizona Coalition for Military Families. Then, she returned to civilian life, and realized she couldn’t yell a command to stop people from talking in a meeting.

That’s where the coalition comes in. Leaders try to bridge the linguistic and cultural gap between employers and veterans. The goal is to ease the pain of moving from the military to civilian life.

The summit featured many speakers, including veterans who now find success in business. (Photo by Eddie Keller/Cronkite News)

The summit featured many speakers, including veterans who now find success in business. (Photo by Eddie Keller/Cronkite News)

“We train employers to understand the military veteran culture so they understand those veterans that are getting ready to come into their workplace,” Beck said.

Veterans expressed some of the difficulties they’ve experienced in their new civilian jobs at a June summit at Arizona State University,

“It’s very challenging, as a veteran, to say, ‘Hey, I need some help,’ “ said Matthew Murphy, an Air Force veteran who is the marketing director for the state Department of Economic Security. He said veterans have a strong sense of self-worth and independence. But he realizes it takes
“courage to ask for help.”