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Five things to know about veterans in the workforce

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.
Updated Nov. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

Bulmaro Martinez, co-owner of We Buy and Sell Real Estate, center, discusses paint colors with the head of his paint crew, Eddy Puentes, left, and project manager Kristie Threadgill, right, at one of his properties  Tuesday. Martinez is a former Marine, and he has learned to apply the skills he gained as a sergeant to the civilian world in his ability to manage a work team.

Upcoming Opportunity

Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent will host "Hiring Red, White & You," a job fair geared toward veterans and service members from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

The event takes place at the Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St., and is open to the public.

Attendees are encouraged to register with workintexas.com before arriving.

For more information, visit gcworkforce.org or call 361-578-0341.

Did you know ... ?

Plans are in the works to build an Iraq-Afghanistan war monument in Victoria.

Honor 361 is working to raise money and develop a design, said Bulmaro Martinez, who is involved with the organization.

Still, he said, the project remains in its planning stages.

For more information or to get involved, call 361-648-9336, email gilbertramon1@hotmail.com or visit the organization's Honor 361 Facebook page.

Here are five things to know about veterans in the workforce:

  1. In 2012, the jobless rate for all veterans sat at 7 percent. That's a 1.3 percentage point drop from the year before. Among male veterans, in 2012, the unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points to 6.9 percent. For female veterans, the rate remained largely unchanged, at 8.3 percent.

  2. It can be difficult for veterans to transition their military experience or terminology used into civilian skills that are useful in the workplace. Still, it is possible. For instance, rather than a veteran including on his or her resume the fact that he or she trained Marines, an individual could state he or she has experience supervising individuals. That's something many employers look for. A number of Crossroads organizations are available to help veterans with such employment matters.

  3. A two-day hold is automatically placed on new job postings that come into Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent. During that time, the center searches for qualified veterans who might be able to fill the positions. Veterans also go to the front of the line when they go to the Victoria center for employment guidance.

  4. According to a November 2012 CareerBuilder study, 29 percent of employers said they were actively recruiting veterans to work for them. That number was up 9 percentage points from 2011. The industries most commonly hiring United States servicemen and women include information technology, customer service, engineering, sales, manufacturing and business development.

  5. It isn't just employment assistance that is available to Crossroads veterans. Additional help is available to eliminate other employment barriers. There are programs to help individuals pay his or her rent or mortgage while he or she search for work, for instance, while groups such as Mid-Coast Family Services offer assistance in finding housing.

SOURCES: CAROLE KOLLE, CENTER DIRECTOR FOR WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS OF THE GOLDEN CRESCENT; HILDA RIERA, VETERANS EMPLOYMENT REPRESENTATIVE WITH THE TEXAS VETERANS COMMISSION; CAREERBUILDER.COM NEWS RELEASE; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS NEWS RELEASE

The smell of paint hung in the air at the small house on Guinevere Street where crews busied themselves the day before the home hit the market. Some people worked on landscaping while others wiped down countertops and eyed the overall project.

"The places where you see the blue tape, that's where we need touch-ups," said Bulmaro Martinez, co-owner of Platinum Home Investments.

Martinez admitted his job today is light-years away from what he was doing just a decade back. The Victoria native, a United States Marine Corps veteran, served a tour in Iraq.

There, he was a combat radio operator.

"I was working in communications, but it isn't like communications here," he said, explaining it involved work with satellites and the like. "It's not like I could come back and go into the media or TV."

Thus, while Martinez did his duty overseas - he said he made his way from Kuwait to Baghdad and was part of the group that toppled Saddam Hussein's statue - he was lost once he returned home in 2003.

"What relates to what I did over there? Nothing, really," he said. "I kind of thought, 'Well, now what?'"

Martinez's problem isn't an unusual one, said Carole Kolle, center director with Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent. That transition from military life to the civilian workforce can be difficult.

Many times, she said, it boils down to the terms used and the ability to translate skills. After all, describing one's skills using military terms might be accurate, but an employer might not understand.

"It's all about selling yourself to the employer," she said. "It's getting the terminology right and knowing how those skills you picked up over there might translate into the workplace."

For Martinez, he said he took to the want ads and took work with a Victoria car dealership.

From there, the veteran took things into his own hands.

He and a co-worker discussed the idea of "flipping" houses or purchasing homes, making upgrades and selling them for a profit. Soon after, Platinum Home Investments was born.

Martinez might not be using his satellite skills, but he said he still uses his training in day-to-day life.

He honed his ability to give orders during his four years in the Marines, for instance, which helps in managing crews. Cross-training - making sure people have some knowledge about a variety of jobs - is also important.

"That military experience helped a lot," he said.

Martinez encouraged those veterans just returning home to work on their resumes early on and to have someone else read over them.

Don't be afraid to ask for assistance from workforce centers, he said, and have faith in your abilities.

"You already have it," he said of the necessary skills. "You just have to be able to use it."

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