Serving in the military takes certain traits and skills: rigorous self-discipline; the ability to adapt; a knack for using technology in high-stakes situations, to name a few.
Those same traits and skills are valuable to employers – especially in cities such as Huntsville, Alabama, where there is a strong military presence and a growing technology business sector. To show veterans how they can make the transition into the civilian workforce, Raytheon Technologies is partnering with two nonprofits there: Still Serving Veterans and Hiring Our Heroes, both of which help veterans find a fresh start.
Still Serving Veterans
Still Serving Veterans, or SSV, offers career and transition services, including educational workshops, to veterans in Huntsville, across northern Alabama, and in Tennessee and Georgia. It also guides veterans in navigating resources including benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, local food banks, and rent and utility assistance programs.
Raytheon Technologies has partnered with Still Serving Veterans since 2017, supporting the nonprofit’s educational workshops as well as its program to connect veterans with their VA benefits.
“When I transitioned out of the U.S. Air Force, I didn’t know how my military experience fit into civilian jobs,” said Deb Carter, who works in digital technology at Raytheon Technologies and has volunteered with Still Serving Veterans for the past four years. “Through organizations like SSV, veterans learn how to translate military customs, terminology and culture into the corporate equivalent.”
Carter and other Raytheon Technologies employee volunteers in Alabama take part in career workshops, where they share their experiences with veterans who are looking for work.
Hiring Our Heroes
Like SSV, Hiring Our Heroes, or HOH, also offers resources for veterans to tap into the connections between their military experience and civilian roles. The organization is a national nonprofit that established a Huntsville chapter in June 2021, in response to the area’s significant military population. For instance, in nearby Madison, Alabama, the U.S. Army post Redstone Arsenal is home to 850 active-duty servicemen and women and 15,000 military retirees who are eligible for the group’s career services.
Through Hiring Our Heroes, veterans participate in a 12-week fellows program that includes coaching and career learning opportunities. Partner companies, such as Raytheon Technologies, provide on-the-job instruction and opportunities to build professional networks. The training entails short-term positions that, in some cases, lead to full-time job offers.
For Addonis Hawkins, a 29-year U.S. Army veteran, participating in the fellowship program has earned him a temporary role at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, which hired him in the summer of 2021. “I’ve already gained real-world experience in product development, and I’ve met people with varying professional backgrounds and experience levels,” Hawkins said.
The Huntsville hotbed
In addition to its large military and veteran presence, the Huntsville community is home to several aerospace and defense companies including Raytheon Technologies. All four of its business units – Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney – have a presence there.
So the community holds promise for job seekers with military experience who are familiar with the products and technologies in these industries, even if they’re new to civilian work. In fact, almost half of Huntsville’s workforce are “new hires,” people who have worked at a company for five years or less, and Huntsville is a good place to settle after starting a new career. The city’s expansion, in addition to its low cost of living, have made Huntsville the third best place to live in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report.
As of late September 2021, Raytheon Missiles & Defense has multiple job openings in Huntsville across various disciplines, such as engineering, operations, program management and contracts. Veterans may well be the right fit for these roles. And, on November 1, Hiring Our Heroes will expand the city’s pipeline of veteran talent by sending its fellows’ résumés to Raytheon Technologies in Huntsville. Ultimately, everyone will benefit: veterans, industry, the city and the state.