Helping Veterans Transition to Civilian Jobs
It’s not easy to leave military service and join the civilian workforce, particularly during times of widespread economic stress. To make the transition easier, Commonwealth Medicine established the Associates Program for Veterans in 2009. Each year, this initiative provides up to two qualified veterans with an opportunity to gain hands-on civilian work experience.
“A good way to serve our men and women in uniform is to provide them with a program that would allow them to gain work experience in the civilian world, while at the same time they readjust to coming home,” said Clara Orlando, Assistant Director of Commonwealth Medicine Human Resources.
In 2010, the first program participant was hired as a full-time employee. After successfully completing the year-long program, veteran Eric Cousins joined Commonwealth Medicine as a human resources recruiter, focusing on hiring other former military personnel. The role builds on the skills he gained in the military, where he served as a recruiter.
During his 16 years in the Army National Guard and two years in the reserves, Cousins worked in human resources and then as a recruiter.
“I changed a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “It was a good experience. It was something that I enjoyed doing at the time, but it was time to move on.”
Commonwealth Medicine's Associates Program for Veterans provided an opportunity for him to start fresh.
During a full year of employment at Commonwealth Medicine, participating veterans are able to adapt their existing skills — and develop critical new ones — for the civilian environment. In addition to offering the potential for permanent work within Commonwealth Medicine, which is UMass Medical School's Health Care consulting division, the Associates Program for Veterans also enables the organization to further diversify its workforce.
“Just dealing with things the way a civilian does has helped me a lot, because I can understand the difference between military and civilian now,” Cousins said. “I would definitely recommend it to any veteran who wants to move on with their life.”