By Margie M. Palmer
Some veterans have a more difficult time adjusting to civilian live than others, which is why the Mission Valley-based National Veterans Transition Services Inc. (NVTSI) is asking for your help.
The San Diego 501(c)(3) is not only dedicated to helping veterans adjust to life outside of the service, they work to help provide veterans with the skills needed to secure meaningful employment.
For those who are still in the armed forces, this means developing a successful reentry plan.
“When people sign up for boot camp, they’re stripped of their identity; when they come out of the military they need to shift that thinking and start focusing on their individual identity,” said NVTSI Business Development Associate Amy Richards. “In the military, you’re not encouraged to ask questions, challenge or think outside of the box. You’re not supposed to stray outside of the lines; but in the civilian sector, this is encouraged. We start by helping people be confident, to stand up and to highlight themselves.”
One way NVTSI helps prepare veterans for this cultural shift is through their workshop programs.
These educational seminars include coursework that focuses on cognitive restructuring, Richards said, which helps students identify what their goals are and how to build career skills.
The three-week, 15-day program is called REBOOT and it’s designed to assist veterans, active duty personnel, reservists, members of the National Guard, and their spouses, make the social and career transition by addressing their fears and “rebooting” their skills.
“When someone is transitioning out of the military, they may not be sure what their skills are and they may not be sure how to transition those skills into a civilian career,” Richards said. “They may have managed a team or overseen a team where they all worked on a project, and they were in charge of overseeing that project from start to finish. And because they weren’t called ‘project manager,’ they don’t realize that they have project management skills.”
The workshops are offered at no cost to eligible military personnel and their spouses; those who have completed the REBOOT seminar give it high marks.
“I met with someone earlier today who finished a workshop with us last winter. She said the experience changed her life because she was able to realize she wasn’t just seeking a job, she had the capability of an actual career. We were able to give her the confidence to be proud of what she’s been able to achieve and to chase her dreams,” Richards said.
“Another recent graduate said she’d submitted her resume to Kaiser Permanente 111 times; after attending the workshop, when she received an interview, she was able to apply the interview skills she learned and ultimately got the job.”
The next workshop will begin on June 5, she said, adding that the upcoming course is specifically focused on helping homeless veterans transition back into the workforce.
“It will be structured the same way as the standard REBOOT workshop. The veterans will go through all of the regular programs and they’ll come in and learn about their strengths, values, purpose and what their barriers are,” she said. “We’ll look at what caused them to get where they are and what we can do to help them and to help put them in a position where they can reach success.”
In addition to helping veterans, NVSTI also provides companies and individuals an opportunity to give back to those who have served their country.
Those who wish to donate funds to help support NVSTI programs are able to make a tax-deductible donation. Companies who are interested in employing REBOOT graduates are also encouraged to reach out, Richards said, as are those who are interested in helping course participants by offering things such as career coaching or assisting with mock interviews.
“I think REBOOT in general is the opportunity of a lifetime and if someone has a chance to attend I would highly encourage that,” she said. “We also welcome support from the community. People who are interested in helping out can reach out directly to me.”
National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. is located at 4007 Camino Del Rio South, Ste 203, San Diego, CA, 92108. For more information on their programs or upcoming workshops, visit nvsti.org or call 619-822-2701. To speak with Amy Richards about making a tax-deductible or in-kind donation, call 619-822-2712.
—Margie M. Palmer is a freelance writer who has been racking up bylines for over a decade. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.