Veteran Success Stories
This Veterans Day, the Employment Development Department (EDD) is calling on employers across the state to do one of the best things to honor our brave veterans – hire them! Businesses can benefit from the skills, training, and experience of returning military men and women. Take a look at the stories below to find out from employers who have hired veterans why recruiting former members of the armed forces makes good business sense.
Paul Guillermo and Honeycutt Aviation, Inc.
Yuba County One-Stop
After sending out nearly 300 résumés, Paul Guillermo finally discovered one Yuba County company that really understands the values veterans bring to the job.
Paul’s background included serving in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, where he developed a unique skill set in aviation and rocketry. He took those skills to Aerojet Rocketdyne, an aerospace and defense company, where he worked on the Orion spacecraft. But after getting laid off earlier this year, Paul was turned away by one company after another. He was told his skill set was too specific or that he was overqualified.
Frustrated by one dead end after another, Paul was ready to move out of state. But in a last-ditch effort, he visited the Yuba County One-Stop, a partner of America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM (AJCC). There, the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) had a wealth of connections with employers who could have the right job opening for Paul. “It was awesome what they did for me,” he said.
While Paul continued his job search, he took résumé writing workshops and classes that showed him how to improve his answers and presentation during interviews – a move Paul highly recommends to other veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. “Don’t give up. Take classes, learn what you can,” he said. “It made me a better person and improved how I present myself during interviews to potential employers.”
That training and the EDD LVER’s connections led Paul to Honeycutt Aviation, Inc., a Yuba County company that has shown a strong commitment to hiring vets. Eight of Honeycutt’s 12 employees are veterans, with five hired as a direct result of working with the local EDD office. Recently, Honeycutt Aviation was honored for its exceptional record of hiring veterans, receiving the 2017 California Employer Advisory Council’s Veteran Employer of the Year award.
“It’s a win-win situation for us,” said Honeycutt Office Manager Annie Magnes, who is a Navy veteran. “We are used to getting along, taking ownership of the process, and we are taught to be smart.”
The company took the commitment one step further with Paul. He interviewed for an aviation mechanic position that didn’t match his skill set. Instead of turning Paul away, though, Honeycutt and the EDD LVER worked together and created a management position for him that took advantage of his many skills. “Paul brought a wealth of experience with him,” Annie said. “He has a lot of experience and paid a lot of attention to detail.”
Paul recently passed probation as an Aviation Quality Assurance Inspector. He’s now writing policies and procedures that will assist the company as it plans to expand and become certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as an aviation parts repair station. He’s now encouraging other veterans to visit their local AJCC location. “Why not take advantage of all they have to offer?” Paul said.
And Honeycutt Aviation’s investment in veterans continues. Right now, the company is working with the Yuba County One-Stop to hire a mechanic and add another veteran to its ranks.
San Diego County
Andrew Lundgren and Accutek Packaging Equipment Companies, Inc.
North County Coastal Career Center, Oceanside
For 10 years, Accutek Packaging Equipment Companies, Inc., has made hiring veterans a priority. “It has always been a pleasure working with all the people involved in helping veterans get jobs,” said Warren Sublett, Accutek’s general manager. “The local EDD employment representatives truly care about what they do, and I have the highest respect for them.”
And Accutek’s continued partnership with the North County Coastal Career Center came through once again in the hiring of U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Andrew Lundgren. For months, Andrew, a disabled veteran, pounded the pavement, looking for a job that would allow him to work as a manager and take advantage of his experience and abilities. Andrew’s job search took a turn for the better when he met George Haith, EDD Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist and Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) at the Oceanside job center. “They understand the jobs I can do and can’t do,” said Andrew, “so they tailor the job search for you.”
While Andrew took résumé‑writing and interview classes, LVER George Haith helped him set up his profile and make connections with potential employers. “If you’re looking for a job, it’s great and fantastic,” said Andrew. “The help is there.”
The right job connection for Andrew came through a fellow Marine, Warren Sublett, who said he knows exactly what veterans like Andrew bring to the table. “Andrew was a retired Marine with proven leadership skills,” said Warren. “During his interview he demonstrated a clean, professional appearance with the desire to learn a new trade.”
Andrew is now flourishing at Accutek as “Machine Shop Lead and Estimator.” Warren isn’t surprised. “Most of the young veterans today have more life changing experiences than the average citizen due to their training and combat deployments,” he said. “The values they bring are discipline, commitment, and unit leadership with a great sense of teamwork. Veterans are easy to train and adapt well to changes. Today’s Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen love this country and are true patriots. It is a pleasure and honor to be in a position to offer employment to my brothers and sisters in arms. Semper Fi.”
Los Angeles County
Dan Levin and UnitedHealth Group/Optum R/X.
North County Coastal Career Center, Oceanside
Dan Levin is no stranger to overcoming adversity. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where, despite having a disability, he rose to the rank of sergeant and served as a helicopter mechanic.
But after making the transition from the military to the civilian workforce, Dan felt a bit lost. “The biggest challenge has been getting used to a corporate environment, and a 40-hour a week desk job,” he said.
While he was a skilled mechanic, Dan had never experienced a formal job interview or prepared a résumé, until leaving the Marines. Dan turned to the North County Coastal Career Center in Oceanside for help. He partnered up with an Employment Development Department, Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist, who guided Dan through intensive employment services, including an effective résumé writing workshop.
“They taught me to list skills in a way that an employer would find attractive,” said Paul. And, he improved his presentation skills by not only doing mock interviews, but by having his DVOP specialist record the interviews and critique them to assess body language and answers – a method Dan says was instrumental in making a good impression.
Dan’s training paid off when he interviewed with Kevin Traw, Vice President of Quality Control and Monitoring Quality Management for UnitedHealth Group/Optum R/X. As a veteran himself, Kevin understands the value vets such as Dan bring to the workplace. “It gives us a business advantage because veterans understand how organizations work, and they’re flexible.”
Dan brought those skills and more to UnitedHealth Group/Optum R/X, where he works a full-time job as a Senior Quality Control Specialist, and recently celebrated his one-year anniversary.
And just like other challenges he’s faced, Dan said pushing himself to learn new skills and reaching out for help were the keys to success. He encourages other veterans making a similar transition to visit their local America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM. “Go in and talk,” Dan said. “I thought I knew everything, but there are always things to improve on.”
Los Angeles County
Nathaniel Owens and Kinkisharyo International, LLC
JVS West Hollywood WorkSource Center
Nathaniel Owens thought all he needed was just five minutes with a potential employer to show he was the right man for the job. After a 21-year career in the Army, working as a security guard, and earning a master’s degree in business administration, Nathaniel was ready to make a career change. However, despite having an impressive résumé, he had no luck getting in the door for an interview in his desired field of human resources, much less landing a job.
Nathaniel turned to the JVS West Hollywood WorkSource Center where he received assistance with improving his résumé and interview techniques. Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists at the job center also recorded a short video of Nathaniel that highlighted his job skills to accompany his résumé. “It helped break the ice,” said Nathaniel. “Without it, I couldn’t have gotten my foot in the door.”
The video allowed Nathaniel to explain how his skills in the Army translate into the human resources field. “Attention to detail. Pay attention to what is said to you, and pay attention to what’s not being said to you,” Nathaniel said. “Get the details to who, what, why, and when. I think that it’s transferable to HR.”
While Nathaniel perfected his résumé and interviewing skills, his EDD DVOP specialist worked leads and connected him with employers who were willing to take a chance on someone starting a new career. “Their help was crucial in securing a job,” said Nathaniel.
Nathaniel’s résumé and video caught the management’s attention at Kinkisharyo International, LLC, an urban transit manufacturing and maintenance company. Managers were impressed by his education and employment background. “Generally, veterans are mature, responsible, adaptable, and conscientious about their work,” said Shenay Settle, Kinkisharyo’s human resources manager. Nathaniel landed a job with the company’s HR department as a Specialist/Recruiter.
“Veterans make up a great majority of our homeless population. They are often unable to find meaningful purpose post military,” said Shenay. “Veterans give up so much for our country, we need to ensure they are given opportunities when they return home.”
Nathaniel continues to help others, as he did in his military service during Desert Storm and Desert Shield. “The main thing that attracted me to human resources is that I like helping others,” said Nathaniel. “I think that would be the greatest asset, knowing that you were a part of behind the scenes, helping the company complete its mission.”