Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 12)

»FEATURE WELCOMING VETERANS TO PORT RANKS Two ports are finding ways to assist military members with transition to civilian employment. By Meredith Martino W hile the economic downturn of the past several years has hit all job seekers hard, veterans and members of the military transitioning from soldier to civilian roles have been the focus of particular attention in the United States. As service members end tours of duty abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, many have been struggling to find work at home. According to Ross Cohen, Senior Director at Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the rolling average unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has declined from 13 percent to 9 percent in the past two to three years. However, with the U.S. drawdown of forces abroad and the pullout of troops from Afghanistan, 1.5 million service members will be leaving the military in the next five years. Many private sector companies have made large hiring commitments, either on their own or as part of larger concerted effort. While public sector agencies do not have as much autonomy in adding full-time positions to their roles, efforts within two ports are paying dividends for veterans and may serve as models for others in the port industry seeking to support transitioning service members. Assisting with Transition in Seattle In 2007, when Tay Yoshitani assumed the position of chief executive officer at the Port of Seattle, he wanted to find a way to help transitioning service members and veterans into full-time employment, a 12 AAPA SEAPORTS MAGAZINE Two recent veteran fellows at the Port of Seattle with CEO Tay Yoshitani, center. passion of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Yoshitani, himself a veteran of the U.S. Army, felt that the port had an obligation and duty to do something to help veterans find employment. "As a public agency, we have a special responsibility on issues that are important in society right now," Yoshitani said. The Port of Seattle Veterans Fellowship Program, created in 2007 with strong support from both the Port Commission and staff, assists veterans in transitioning from active duty to the civilian work environment. The program supports transitioning service members through exposure and experience in the civilian workplace while refining skills and abilities necessary for successful integration into civilian organizations. Every six months, the port welcomes two or three fellows - individuals who just ended their service or are in the process of exiting the military. The port matches those individuals with positions that fit their background and career aspirations. Past fellows have served in operations, public relations, engineering and legal departments, among other fields. "These fellows provide value to the port, but we also help them make the transition by helping them arrange interviews in and out of the port," Yoshitani explained, emphasizing that fellows receive pay and full benefits during their term. The fellows who have participated in the Port of Seattle program have taken different paths - many have stayed on with the port in long-term positions, others have

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Public Sector Agencies with Private Sector Expectations
Welcoming Veterans to Port Ranks
Working with Stakeholders: The Buck Stops at the CEO’s Office
Words of Wisdom from Long-Standing Port Executives
PPM® Certification Readies Executives for the Top
Facing Challenges Head On
Ports are Critical to U.S. Economy’s Health
The Changing Paradigm of Transportation Executives
Port and Maritime Environmental Compliance Planning Starts at the Top
Comprehensive Records Retention Plan a Must for Ports
Saint John Brings the Port to the Classroom
Barbados on Track for Record Cruise Growth
Santa Marta Focuses on the Environment, Community and Operational Efficiency
Northwest Ports Partner to Further Cut Diesel Emissions

Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014