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Manny Espinoza

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Tough Challenges Ahead: Helping Ethnic Minority Veterans Transition Back Into Corporate America

Posted: 03/26/2012 5:48 pm

The U.S.S. Intrepid will be buzzing with activity this week. But the hundreds of men and women
on board will be preparing for a different kind of battle. Armed with resumes, these veterans are looking for jobs. Their wonderful homecoming has been spoiled by a high unemployment rate, especially for younger vets. As part of its Hiring our Heroes initiative, NBC, the Today Show and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring a series of job fairs for veterans such as the one taking place on the U.S.S. Intrepid.

New York native Orley Pacheco knows this battle on the home front all too well. Orley started
his career in Corporate American as an analyst for Goldman Sachs as a high school intern.

Hearing a different call, Orley rescinded the full-time offer and instead went on to serve our
country as a U.S. Marine. After long and honorable service that took him around the globe in
service in places such as Haiti, Iraq to being on the ground for Hurricane Katrina, Orley was
shocked to find transition to civilian life discouraging and even belittling.

The U.S. Labor Department reports that unemployment among veterans age 18-24 years old
tops an astounding 20 percent, compared with the national rate of about nine percent. Factors
in this cruel reality include their struggle with fitting in, adjusting to civilian life, a mismatch of
skills and making the transition back into a job market, especially given the tumultuous current economic climate. With an increase in U.S. withdrawal ahead, more veterans will soon flood the civilian job market.

No question that assimilation back into corporate culture can be quite challenging for veterans. They are forced to take part in a hiring process that they are no longer accustomed to. They have to undergo the stressful screening and interview process, and some do not possess updated skills needed in certain sectors of the current job market.

The challenges can be even tougher when the vet is an ethnic minority. According to the US
department of Veteran Affairs, roughly 6 percent of current veterans are Hispanic. This might pose special challenges to Hispanic veterans, involving lack of mentorship or supportive networks.

At ALPFA, the nation's largest Latino professional association, we believe corporations
recognize the leadership skills veterans bring to the table and we want to ensure specifically
that our Latino veterans are connected to these opportunities and that their needs are being
met. We've created the ALPFA Veteran's Initiative to help service men and women make this
difficult transition into -- or back into -- Corporate America, at a time when they need it the most.

Our initiative offers free membership, access to special events aimed at connecting vets to
corporations and a variety of other programs to help build their skills.

As ALPFA works to build Latino leaders, we want to support veterans to transition from
leadership in the military to leaders in the corporate community.

If anyone is a veteran or knows a veteran looking for business networking opportunities
and professional development, you can learn more about the ALPFA Veteran's Initiative at
www.alpfa.org. Please visit www.today.com for more information about Hiring our Heroes.