Veteran Support Organizations

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
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The Armed Forces Support Foundation runs the Hire a Hero, Connect a Hero and Educate a Hero programs, which use social networking technologies to help service members leaving active duty to find necessary resources. The effort began with Hire a Hero and is expanding as the other two efforts are scheduled to roll out later this year. “The idea was to get the veteran community involved and help new people coming out to mingle, talk and help each other find jobs,” Rob Barr, executive director of the Armed Forces Support Foundation, explains. Because the veteran and military community is such a small part of the population, networking can be difficult. And many in the civilian world simply do not understand the military. Employers might even be hesitant to hire veterans because of concerns about PTSD, so part of what Barr tries to do is educate the general population. He likens Hire a Hero to monster.com, only limited to organizations looking to hire veterans. Through a revamping of the site, veterans can enter their military job codes to help them find relevant civilian jobs. Companies with government contracts requiring a certain number of veteran employees can benefit by searching the applicant pool on the site.
The service is integrating with Facebook to help connect people through the Connect a Hero initiative. When people apply to a company, an app will search through their “friends” to find someone who works there and/or could help them land the job. Because most positions are obtained through some type of networking, this helps veterans locate the support they need. Connect a Hero also will work through Twitter to find connections. In three to five years, Barr hopes to add social web workers who will help take veterans through the job process. These people could help disabled veterans find opportunities or assist someone who wants to become an engineer to obtain the appropriate skills and credentials. The goal is to bridge the various transition programs that troops receive upon leaving active duty to create a consistent resource. Social web workers also would institute a follow-up system to remain in contact with the veterans. Educate a Hero will connect veterans with various types of educational institutions from technical schools to graduate programs. But beyond determining a course of study,
it also will help connect former service members to the veterans programs at the school, giving them additional resources. “Our ultimate goal is to create a better transition program for these young men and women,” Barr says.
Barr became involved in these initiatives after working for another veterans employment charity. “I was blown away with how unorganized and unfriendly it is to transfer from the military to civilian life,” he explains. “From that moment, I made it my mission to give back to the country.” He says one of the most important reasons for Hire a Hero and its spinoffs is creating continuity in the transition process and building the social capital that those who have not served already enjoy. Current and soon-to-be veterans can begin to take advantage of the program by visiting the website, searching the resources and applying for an account. Military contractors can add a link to Hire a Hero on their site, which helps the organization gain visibility. They also can post jobs, which should be mutually beneficial as more connections are made. Since last year, the site has grown from 500,000 unique visitors to more than 3 million. To contact Hire a Hero call (866) 440-4424, email mailto:info@hireahero.org, or refer to http://www.hireahero.org or http://www.armedforcessupportfoundation.org. [Source: AFCRA Veterans Focus Rita Boland article Nov 2011 ++]

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