Program to help military veterans transition to civilian jobs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Program to help military veterans transition to civilian jobs

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) – Hundreds of military veterans have applied for The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority fellowship.

The program starts on November 12, the day after Veterans Day, and is designed to help military veterans make the transition to civilian employment.

"There is a tremendous need in our community,” said Kurt Gering, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Director of Talent Culture and Capability.

The six-month fellowship program will provide three veterans with practical work experience, networking opportunities and an understanding of the aviation environment, according to the agency, which operates Lindbergh Field.

"With so many diverse facets, the airport provides a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between a veteran's military experience and the civilian work environment," said Thella Bowens, president and CEO of the Airport Authority. "Through this program, we're not only helping San Diego's veterans gain valuable work experience but also fostering interest in a future career within the aviation industry -- so it's a win-win."

CBS News 8 spoke to an Army reservist who spent 7 years on active duty touring in Iraq and Korea as a flight medic. When Cecilia Morales returned she said it was a tough transition to the workforce.

“It was kind of hard to think about what I was going to do, if I was going to back to school or if I was going to look for a job. So it was daunting at first," said Morales.

She says Veteran Affairs helped guide her to a military-friendly school where she earned her associates degree and is a certified medical assistant.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in 2013 unemployment among post 9/11 veterans was down to 9%. Among all jobless veterans 35% were ages 25-44.

"A lot of them don't have direction as to where to go and have anybody to turn to,” said Morales.

Now the authority is giving them that opportunity. The program will employ a total of six fellows annually. The first three will work in departments like Airside Operations, Aviation Security and Public Safety, and Procurement.

"We have a real estate management group that really looks at concessions, how to manage all of the tenants in the airport,” said Gering.

The program is a quarter of a million dollar investment that offers fellows a basic benefits and compensation from $55,000 to $58,000.

“We owe it to them to help them transition back into civilian life,” said Tony Ramirez, a passenger at Lindbergh Field.

Qualcomm and Sempra Energy offer similar fellowships.

To be eligible, candidates must meet the requirements of the position, have served a minimum of three years of active duty or mobilized reserve duty and been honorably discharged within the last year. Positions are determined based on interest and the operational needs of the airport.

“[This will] help them enhance their skills and become a better person as well as a veteran,” said Morales.

The authority is partnering with Easter Seals for career counseling and resume building.

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