TAYLOR, Michigan  – The Governor’s Summit on Veterans Talent introduced Michigan employers to veterans like Travis Nack, a former helicopter crew chief in the Marine Corps turned mechanical engineering student at the University of Michigan, and Justin Herrera, an Army veteran who successfully led an Army clinic closure in Germany and an executive office move in Afghanistan. Both were offered jobs on the spot.

The event also brought together employers from across the state to share best practices for hiring and retaining veteran employees.

“We know our returning veterans bring with them a lot of talent, training and job-ready skills, but it isn’t always obvious where that talent might fit in an organization,” said MVAA Director Jeff Barnes. “We heard from many employers, both at the event and in the days since, who want to bring that talent into their organization, and we are working with those organizations to make a meaningful and measurable impact on veteran employment.”

Gov. Rick Snyder and others spoke at the event, highlighting the value Michigan veterans bring to the workplace and stressing to employers the importance of recognizing and cultivating that talent. Snyder also introduced several Michigan veterans, who shared personal stories of how their military experience has prepared them for civilian careers and the challenges they have faced in translating that experience for potential employers.

Julia Treme, an Army health care specialist who recently completed her BSN from Grand Valley State University, told the crowd how her medic training had her crawling through dark corridors under simulated gunfire to assess and treat patients with nothing but the supplies on her back.

“After an experience like that, there’s nothing in a hospital environment that could really intimidate me,” she said. Treme was approached by Lansing Community College to join the teaching staff in their Military Medic to Paramedic program.

You could hear a pin drop in the room when former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta delivered the keynote address. Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2007, making him the first living person to receive the award since the end of the Vietnam War. He offered this advice to the CEOs in the audience: “I would hire a veteran because they will lead you through the unknown.”

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), in partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber, hosted the summit, which was held on Wednesday, November 13, at the Masco Corporate Headquarters in Taylor. Learn more about MVAA and find tools for employers and job seekers at www.michiganveterans.com.

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