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Mar 17

Veteran Profile: Yancy Caruthers, NW of Eden

CONUS Battle Drills is very excited to introduce a fellow combat veteran, Yancy Caruthers author of North West of Eden!

One of the pleasures of taking on this project has been meeting all the great veterans out there that are deciding that they too are going to get involved and do something.

Yancy has been doing some great work and is regularly publishing great content.  Check out his page www.yancycaruthers.com and on Facebook: North West of Eden.  You can find his books North West of Eden and the Medic! series (Korea, Desert Storm, and Iraq) all on Amazon.

He has already featured us on his page and given us some great tips on getting the message out!

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The idea came to me in the middle of the night, at a time when I should have been sleeping.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with this thoughtful time when the bladder wakes you and the brain refuses to let you go back to dreamland.

In my area, there are a variety of organizations that serve the needs of veterans who are transitioning back to the civilian workplace – they will teach you how to translate military skills, write resumes, and interview for the job of your dreams.

We’ve heard the stories, and some of us have lived them.  A patriotic employer may actively search out people with military experience or offer incentives.  They manage to hire a vet, but can’t communicate expectations in a manner in which their new employee can understand.  Perhaps the new employer is a good manager (sometimes too good!) but doesn’t have as much leadership experience as their new employee.  Maybe the upward mobility isn’t clearly visible.

For whatever reason, employer and employee fail to communicate.  Both are frustrated, and the relationship eventually ends badly.  The vet is discouraged by his career prospects, and the boss thinks twice about hiring another veteran.  Eventually, both give up.

The insomnia-induced epiphany started out as a question:  If the gap between civilians and veterans is so wide, why are we building the bridge from only one side?  Who is out there working with employers?  Not just to help them hire veterans, but to integrate them, retain them, and develop them into the corporate assets that many have the potential to be.

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I shared my thoughts with Al, who works as Veterans Representative at the Missouri Department of Economic Development.  Together, we hatched a plan for a panel discussion designed for human resource professionals and other hiring managers.  Our three person panel consisted of a veteran who had successfully transitioned into a civilian career, a director of volunteers at a local hospital, and a manager from a large banking organization.  Al (or rather, the state of Missouri) provided a meeting room and blasted out the invitations to his mailing list of employers.  We met with our panelists two weeks beforehand, just to make sure that the presentations would compliment each other.

On the morning of the presentation, 48 people attended.  What followed was a frank, two-hour discussion, guided by the thoughtful responses of the three panelists (and one awesome moderator!).  We scored some local news coverage, and the city’s media department videotaped the entire presentation.  The participants left with a few new tools in their kits, and many were hungry for more information.  Currently, plans are being made to present this seminar as a model program for other divisions of the Missouri Department of Economic Development to present in their own regions.

We didn’t do everything perfectly, but that’s not the point – we did something.  We reached out, got people excited, and started a dialogue.

It was incredibly easy!  A few phone calls to find the panelists, a couple of meetings and some prep time – that was it.  Al and I estimated that we might have put ten hours into the effort.  We just put the right people in the room.

And it’s already bigger than me.  Others will follow my lead, with their own local panelists and moderator.  I’m not threatened by that.  I’m a trailblazer.  Those who follow me will have a model to go by and won’t repeat my mistakes.  They will do it differently and better – others may even tell them so.  I hope they do.

 

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Yancy Caruthers is a veteran, retired Army nurse, and former U.S. diplomat.  He is the author of Northwest of Eden, his memoir of providing medical care during the Iraq War.  He also writes Medic!, a series of stories about an Army medic from each of the living wars – from WW2 to Afghanistan.

2 comments

  1. Aurelio Cowie

    Thanks for openly sharing. As they say “So it goes” 🙂

  2. Guillermo Summer

    Great to have you share. As my mom used to say “Never, never, never give up” 🙂

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