I know little about moderation, and the closest I have come to serving was when I enlisted in the Air Force at 14, eliciting a phone call from some colonel to my mom wondering why I hadn’t reported for duty.
“He’s 14,” my mom told the colonel. “But you can have him.”
Still, I have been asked to moderate a forum Thursday night called “Bring ‘Em Home! Transforming Military Might Into Civilian Talent.”
Part of 83 Degrees Media’s “Not Your Average Speaker” series, the forum, being held at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, is designed to offer advice from experts on how those in the military can stay in the Tampa area after they leave the service.
There’s a lot at stake.
The Tampa area has about 119,000 veterans between 18 and 54, according to census figures distilled by Jack Grise, an entrepreneur vice president for veterans initiatives at SCORE Pinellas County.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans has increased over the past year, from 9.7 percent in September 2012 to 10.1 percent in September of this year, according to Department of Labor Statistics.
Though the unemployment rate for female veterans has improved over the same period, declining from 19.9 percent to 11.6 percent, that’s still well above the overall nationwide rate of 7.2 percent.
One of the biggest challenges that I hear about is translating the many skills picked up during service into civilian applications.
At a recent event I attended, I heard one veteran talk about how resumes from some fellow vets were long on skills like long-range sniper shots, but shorter on the kinds of mission-oriented discipline ingrained into troops from the beginning.
As someone who has hired people in the past, I have a great appreciation for skills learned in the military, particularly on the battlefield, like bold, innovative thinking, the ability to assess risk and knowing when to take that risk. Even before the past 12 years of war, I took those skills into account when hiring, and they gave one candidate a decided edge.
As moderator, I want to help guide the discussion to drill down a bit further, on how military occupation specialities translate, how the tremendous investment in skills like cyber security and other technology puts many veterans on the cutting edge and even how having security clearance can be worth several tens of thousands of dollars in salary (even in this down economy, I witnessed a bidding war over one such candidate).
Fortunately, Diane Egner, publisher and managing editor of 83 Degrees Media, has put together a very deep panel with a wide array of experiences inside and outside the military:
♦ As 6th Air Mobility Wing commander and installation commander of MacDill Air Force Base, Air Force Col. Scott DeThomas is responsible for more than $2.8 billion in base property and capital assets and controls an annual budget of more than $249 million. A native of Rhode Island, DeThomas is a graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and has been awarded the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Superior Service Medal.
♦ Kiersten Downs, a doctoral student in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida, recently completed a 3,800-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Washington D.C. this past summer to raise awareness for student veterans and raise $50,000 for the nonprofit organization, Student Veterans of America. She is the former president of USF’s chapter of Student Veterans of America and sits on the national student council for SVA. She served for seven years in the Air Force and New York Air National Guard. After leaving active duty in 2005, she earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Binghamton University.
♦ Ryan Moran is a project manager with LVI Environmental Services, Inc. in Tampa and the CEO and Founder of TheVeteransEdge, a nonprofit organization designed to help veterans find appropriate jobs. He is pursuing a degree in Business Entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Second2None Excursion, a nonprofit organization that offers outdoor excursions as a means of improving disabled veterans’ quality of life through adventure and sense of accomplishment. The organization also provides opportunities for vets to socialize and network with other disabled and able-bodied veterans in a team building environment and provides opportunities for families to reconnect in activities that enhance physical and mental health. He is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
♦ Brian Murphy is president and CEO of ReliaQuest, a security consulting service for Fortune 1,000 firms and government agencies. He is a member of the board of directors of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF) and the Ryan Nece Foundation and serves in leadership roles for the Tampa chapters of the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association and the National Defense Industry Association. A graduate of Florida State University, he has degrees in accounting and finance.
If you are a veteran seeking employment, or an employer looking for a highly talented pool of potential workers and want to know more about what they bring to the table, check it out.
The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, 720 E. Zack St.,Tampa.
Last week, for the first time in a while, the Pentagon announced no troop deaths.
There have been 2,276 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.