Working Groups in Action:
Veterans as Strategic Assets events
For months, the IJF Education and Employment Working Groups have been planning a major "Veterans as Strategic Assets" (VSA) initiative, aimed at equipping both employers and student veterans to promote veteran employment, as well as connecting them with each other. VSA has involved several events for veterans and employers, as well as a major survey sponsored by the Edelman Group to better understand employers' perceptions of veterans.
Last month, the first VSA event was held at The Pritzker Military Library & Museum, where 35 employers and more than 80 veterans benefiting from an evening of panel sessions and networking. Smaller but equally successful VSA events were later held at Western Illinois University, Southwestern Illinois College, and Northern Illinois University.
By far the largest IJF Working Group endeavor to date, VSA involved the efforts - from funding and hosting, to presenting and mentoring, to recruiting and publicizing -- of dozens of IJF members. Those members brought more than 120 companies, schools, and support organizations to the table to help benefit veterans. Roman Ortega Jr., the veterans services coordinator at Lewis University and active member of the Working Group, took the lead to ensure that the events were impactful and sustainable.
Hundreds of student veterans attended the VSA events. One of those was Riley Wright, pictured above, a student at National Louis University. She admitted that she was "reluctant to boast [her] veteran status before the event," but said the event made her "want to get more involved in the veteran community."
At the Pritzker Military Museum & Library VSA Event, Wright, who served as an Army Military Police Officer, met with a representative from The Mission Continues. She is now pursuing a fellowship with the organization in hope to support veterans through non-profit work.
"I'm proud of my military experience, but I'm not looking for any recognition," she explained, "On the other hand, I have many skills that can benefit my community."
To learn more or get involved, please contact either Amy Sherman or Paul Knudtson.