From military life to civilian life: Veterans discuss their transition
Military veterans who participated in the 2017 Warriors to Summits expedition discuss difficulties they have experienced in transitioning to the civilian workforce.
The 2017 No Barriers Warriors to Summits team members have faced rigorous training and expeditions designed to help them to overcome personal barriers. They have also faced the challenge of transitioning from their service in the U.S. military to the civilian workforce.
When service members leave the military, they are faced with multiple adjustments including relocating, reuniting with loved ones, possibly living on their own for the first time, and sometimes, dealing with disabilities. Additionally, many need to find a new source of income to support themselves and their families. Alone, any of these transition tasks can be challenging. Combined, their difficulty grows in complexity.
Members of the 2017 Warriors to Summits team, a group of veterans with disabilities, met to talk about their experiences adjusting to civilian life and employment. “I never really had another career,” said Bradley Chidester, a U.S. Army veteran and father of four from St. George, Utah. “And I have no skill sets that translate easily to an employer.”
Chidester’s story is common among the millions of veterans looking for civilian work. “The three things veterans struggle with when they get out is a lack of purpose, a lack of identity, and a lack of community,” said John Toth, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who now heads No Barriers Warriors, the organization that runs Warriors to Summits. “If you can find those things in a job,” said Toth, “that’s where you become successful.”
Finding out what 'employers could do better'
Hosting the roundtable discussion for Chidester and his Warriors to Summits teammates was just one of the ways Wells Fargo is trying to help veterans with their transition efforts. “We wanted to hear from them about the challenges they’re facing and what they thought an employer like Wells Fargo or other employers could do better,” said Jerry Quinn, head of Wells Fargo’s Military and Veteran Affairs program, who led the discussion.
Wells Fargo has committed to hiring 20,000 veterans by 2020. In addition to No Barriers, the company is actively working with nonprofits like American Corporate Partners and Hire Heroes USA, and participating in programs like Apprenticeship USA and the Veteran Employment Transition Program, to help veterans find careers. In 2016, Wells Fargo announced it would commit $2 million over four years to Scholarship America to administer and distribute the Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program and the Wells Fargo Veterans Emergency Grant Program. The scholarships and grants will help veterans and spouses of veterans with disabilities obtain education or training to successfully integrate back into civilian life. Learn more at wellsfargo.com/military.