UC Irvine Boot Camp for Employers: Veteran Talent Recruitment and Retention


UC Irvine, along with other community partners, is collaborating on the upcoming 2016 Joint Veteran Talent Reintegration Conferences to help the courageous and talented men and women who have served in all branches of the armed forces transition successfully into civilian industry jobs.

Whether your company is interested in tapping into the specialized leadership, teamwork, discipline and/or strategic thinking skills and dedication veterans are known for,  you want to learn more about employer rewards for hiring veterans, or you simply want to do your part to show veterans how much you appreciate their service and sacrifices for our Country, this event is for you.

july18announcement_textwebsm (1)July 18, 2016, will be the first of three strategic programs focused on helping Veterans find employment.

The first event — Veteran Talent Recruitment and Retention Bootcamp for HR Professionals — is not just for HR professionals, but also business and organization managers to improve their veteran recruitment and retention programs, de-mystify stigmas, understand veteran health issues including establishing a realistic perspective on PTSD, learn relevant laws, employer rewards, and overcoming challenges to retention. You will hear best practices directly from companies successfully utilizing Veteran talent and discover helpful community resources available to veterans and employers.

Participating experts include Thomas Parham, Vice Chancellor Office of the Vice Chancellor Student Affairs; Michael Hollifield MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Director, Program for Traumatic Stress, Long Beach VA Healthcare System; Eli Pascal, UCI Assistant Director, CARE Campus Assault Resources in Education; John Tyler, US Army Sergeant (Ret), Employment Coordinator, Long Beach VA Healthcare System; Grace Tonner, Professor, Lawyering Skills, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Mario Barnes, US Navy Commander (Ret), Professor, Co-Director UCI Center on Law, Equity and Race; Antoinette Balta Esq., California State Military Reserve, Captain, JAG, Installation Support Command, President, Veterans Legal Institute; Veteran Law Clinic Lecturer, UCI School of Law; Jan Serrantino, PhD, Director, UCI Disability Services Center; Adam Karr, Partner, O’Melveny & Myers; Aaron Anderson, US Army Special Forces Green Beret (Ret), Associate, Trade Compliance, PIMCO; Stephanie Soltis, US Air Force Reserve Pilot, Vice President, Account Management, PIMCO; Jeff Matsen, US Army Officer, Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management, Edwards Life Sciences; Tim White, US Marine Corps Captain (Ret), Executive Vice President, Account Manager, PIMCO; Chip Hawkins, US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer (Ret), Senior Military Recruiting Strategist, Veteran Outreach Specialist, Aetna; and Mark Whalls, US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (Ret), Head of Military and Veteran Recruiting, HR Talent Acquisition Professional Recruiting, Aetna.

Follow this link for more detailed information.

UCI Veteran Services provides veterans, reservists, active-duty members and dependents assistance in obtaining the educational benefits to which they are entitled. The office is responsible for submitting entitlement requests for new and continuing students to the V.A., answering any questions veteran students or dependents may have concerning their educational benefits and providing resources and programs to assist veterans in navigating their transition to civilian and student life.

By a Veteran, For Veterans Job Search Guide


by Omar Masry

[Note: This “By a Veteran, For Veterans Job Search Guide” was written by my friend Omar Masry, formerly a city planner for the City of Irvine and now a city planner for the City and County of San Francisco. Omar served in the U.S. Army in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  It is reposted, with his permission, from the website of the City and County of San Francisco Veterans’ Affairs Commission. Much of Omar’s great advice works for non-veteran job seekers, too.]

You must approach the description and translation of your military responsibilities, experiences, and accomplishments in the proper manner to perspective employers. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves and currently a San Francisco City Planner.

Omar Masry, Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog, melissajoifox, Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine

Author Omar Masry in Iraq, 2003.

Here is my “By a Veteran, For Veterans” job search guide:


If a hiring manager has to read through four pages of a resume to quickly figure out a quick sense of your job history and your education, you’re doing it wrong!

To make your resume more concise and comprehensible, use bullet points:

Think in 3’s. First, indicate your duties.

Second, indicate something you improved upon or built or were proud (be confident, not cocky. Better to say you excelled/achieved/initiated than to say you were awesome/on point/hard charging).

Third, highlight a transition to a sub-specialty within the job or a special project.

Fourth, add a few more bullet points for jobs with more relevance to the position you are applying for.

Finally, use action verbs as first word of a few bullet points, such as “completed,” “managed,” “built,” etc.


Chronological job listing is NOT a requirement; especially if it doesn’t pertain to the job you are applying for. You can put previous jobs in order of relevance, especially if you recently took a part time temp job to make ends meet, but you’ve had more substantial/relevant jobs a year or two ago.


Education versus work experience. If new to workforce, education should come at the top of the resume, then experience. If your school experience involved hands-on application relevant to the job, then mention it.

While there are websites where you can enter your MOS and rank/pay grade and find a “civilian” job translation, bear in mind some of the answers are a bit odd/lame/irrelevant. If you try it, only use it as a starting point.


State accomplishments in numbers/scale; whether $$$, number of people managed, square footage built, state the measurements of what is measurable. For example: You were a Finance Clerk in the Military. An employer has no idea from that title if you handed out $20 bills to buy stuff from the Post Exchange or if you balance ledger books for million dollar accounts.


Save the resume as a PDF. Don’t hire a resume writer; it’s often a waste of $100-200.

Test, test, test any links to a resume but still send a PDF resume.

If the job is one where you’d like to post examples of projects online (designs, videos, news articles about your work). Include it as a link on the resume and use a service like http://bit.ly or http://tinyurl.com to create a shortened link.

If you work with a recruiter they will want a word document version, and PDF. They often add a logo and other information.


Military Supervision/Management experience. Explain your rank and the size of any group you led. Were you akin to a Supervisor, a manager, or CEO?

Most civilian managers don’t know what a Sergeant or Captain means. If you indicate you lead a squad or platoon, they don’t know if that means 5 or 50 soldiers.

Did you engage in counseling, write performance or counseling reviews? If so, convey that!

Many employers assume it’s all akin to boot camp and you yell all day, when it came to supervisory experience in the military. Highlight your ability to engage in effective written counseling. Brag (mildly) if you improved outcomes or morale.


You’re a bit special; your experience might make some managers awkward about asking questions (so you’re not alone in terms of comfort level).

Hiring managers with no military experience might wonder: if you come back “unable to deal” with the lack of a strict work structure; can you function amongst a lot of hippies/hipsters? Play up the fact that you probably dealt with all types in the military. If you think it will work with the interviewer use sports analogies at times.


Don’t use military acronyms. If you use terms that sound “unique” then put a short explanation next to it. For example: “Psychological Operations (battlefield public relations/media engagement)”


Create a LinkedIn profile. Remove/block photos of you acting a fool on social media sites. Don’t be afraid of establishing a professional facing profile on Twitter or Facebook.


If you do all this, and you don’t have someone else, who is a professional, read your resume, then you’re wasting your time. Don’t be shy about asking. If you don’t know anyone personally, and you’re in a small town, check with the EDD (Employment Development Department, or organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.). They’re often looking for opportunities to connect with and mentor vets.


Intel. Use Google.com/alerts to receive an email every time a search term shows up online. Follow a company or field and receive emails about it automatically from Google. Read the mission statement of the company you’re applying to (often in the “About Us” portion of the website). Follow interesting companies on LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook (people sometimes notice it then reach out to you).


Volunteer or intern. UnitedWay, Friends of the Library, Veteran’s Affairs, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, County Parks, City Hall, local Federal agencies like a nearby National Park. Sometimes, what starts out as an unpaid internship can turn to a paid opportunity.


Practice! Print out some interview questions and ask your friend to interview you or record yourself. Reduce your likelihood of using words like “um,” or rambling.


Spell check every resume, cover letter, and email to the company!


White space! Leave some room on your resume so it doesn’t have an overwhelming sense of being too full of text. Print it out and take a look at your resume. There is no magic rule on the number of pages (less is more), but generally the first page should convey a fairly complete sense of relevant job history and education. If needed, try to only use the 2nd page to list certifications, and other less relevant jobs.


Include the same keywords in your resume (to the extent relevant) that are in the job description (e.g. technical qualifications/concepts, lead, manage, supervise).


Strongly advise against expensive private schools in combination with private loans. Be very skeptical on job placement claims. Always ask for increases in Subsidized Stafford versus Unsubsidized Stafford loans whenever job or medical or family expenses change for worse. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance/scholarships. It’s a hand-up, not a handout. You’ll do far more for yourself, and your Country if you take advantage of any assistance now and succeed in the long run.


Did you come back from serving, act a fool one night, and get caught up with a misdemeanor? If so, get it expunged. Start the paperwork 2-3 months before you are off probation. If you need help, write a letter asking your County’s public defender if they have a “Clean Slate” (San Francisco Example: http://sfpublicdefender.org/services/clean-slate/), or similar program; in Orange County, contact the Legal Aid Society for help. Check with local law firms (written letter, not a phone call/email), if they do any pro bono (free) legal work with Vets. You’d be surprised how often they just might say yes.


Dress Code. Even if it’s some funky/hip company and they all wear jeans, you’re still wearing a suit to the first interview. No sport watch, white socks, or funky ties.


Your turn: when you are asked if you have any questions during the interview, don’t ask about salary or hours. Instead, ask for a description of workplace culture and priorities. Ask what would make a person successful in this position. Show an interest in any interesting mentions that came up earlier.


Consider taking notes during interview. Often times you’ll receive a two-part question. The trick is making sure to look down at your notes and not forget to answer the second part of the question.


Send a thank you letter; by email OR written letter. Yes, it may seem cheesy, but it’s important. I’ve seen an example where a Vet was only contacted after the interview because he sent in a thank you letter. Or times when the Vet didn’t get the specific job they applied for but received a call months later because another position opened up. Don’t ramble in your letter, but use two or three bullet points in your letter as an opportunity to build upon the interview.


Don’t use the phrase “references available upon request.” If you are asked for a list of references before/after the interview, then list their contact information and also include two to three sentences about how you interacted with them. Did you report to them? Was that person a peer who can speak to your ability to work in a team?


Team… highlight your ability to work in a team environment (often with folks you would have never known had you not joined the military) and what you specifically contributed to the team, especially if the job involves small team groupings.


Get excited about the next phase of your career. Opportunity is out there. Don’t believe me? Check out tech resources for vets, TED talks for job search inspiration, these job and skill specific job sites, or VetNet (Hire Heroes USA and Google’s Partnership to Help Veterans).


Stay the course, and stay on point. Finding a career is a job in itself.

Memorial Day: The Lesson of the Four Chaplains

Four Chaplains, Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog, melissajoifox, Melissa Fox blog

When my husband was a child, his father, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, told him the story of the Four Chaplains of the USAT Dorchester as an example of American heroism and American values.

It is a story worth sharing again this Memorial Day:

On the night of February 3, 1943, United States Army Transport ship Dorchester was en route from Newfoundland to England via Greenland, when it was hit by torpedoes from a German submarine.

The Dorchester listed sharply to starboard, then began to sink almost immediately into the icy water. The torpedoes knocked out the Dorchesters electrical system, leaving the ship dark. The ship was overcrowded and there were insufficient lifeboats or lifejackets for the 904 men on board.

Four Chaplains, Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissafoxblog, melissajoifox, Melissa Fox blog

The Four Chaplains of the USAT Dorchester: Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Rev. Clark V. Poling, and Father John P. Washington

As the Dorchester sank, the ship’s four chaplains aided the wounded, sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship, helped get the men into lifeboats and then gave up their own lifejackets when the supply ran out. They helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, then linked arms in prayer as the ocean water overcame the deck and the ship sank.

A survivor later explained:

“As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the four chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”

As the ship went down, survivors in nearby lifeboats could see the four chaplains – their arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers.

Survivors said could hear different languages mixed in the prayers of the chaplains, including Jewish prayers in Hebrew and Catholic prayers in Latin.

Twenty-seven minutes after the torpedoes hit, the Dorchester was gone.

The four chaplains were:

Lt. George L. Fox, age 42, Methodist.

Lt. Alexander D. Goode, age 32, Jewish.

Lt. Clark V. Poling, age 32, Reformed Church in America.

Lt. John P. Washington, age 34, Roman Catholic.

For the Four Chaplains sacrifice, on December 19, 1944 they were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. Later, due to the under-fire requirement to receive the Medal of Honor, Congress decided to authorize a special medal that carried the same weight. It was called the Chaplain’s Medal for Heroism. These four men are the only chaplains ever to receive this award.

On this Memorial Day, I will be thinking about the four chaplains, arms linked and praying together on the deck of the USAT Dorchester in 1943.

And I will be thinking, with gratitude, of all of the men and women of our Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the rights and freedoms that we hold to be essential, including the right to be free from discrimination based on one’s race, faith, gender or sexual orientation.

According to the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, the lesson of the sacrifice made by the four chaplains is “unity without uniformity” and “selfless service to humanity without regard to race, creed, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.”

The Reverend Daniel Poling, father of Chaplain Clark V. Poling, said that the lesson of the Four Chaplains is that “as men can die heroically as brothers so should they live together in mutual faith and goodwill.”

My father-in-law said it more simply:  We are all Americans.