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Turning Volunteer Experience Into A Paying Job
by Julia LeDoux, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall - April 5, 2015

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JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Military family members and service members transitioning or retiring from the armed forces should not underestimate the power of volunteer experiences as they seek paid employment in the civilian job market.

“Many employers hold volunteer experience in high regard because it shows the candidate has not only the experience in the skill set they are looking for, but also the compassion and spirit to do it voluntarily,” said Kelly Layne, Family Readiness Program trainer and volunteer opportunities program manager for Marine Corps Family Team Building and Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall.

A letter signed Feb. 2, 2015 by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs that all service members transitioning out of the service will receive underscores the importance of volunteering as part of the Call to Continued Service campaign.

Abby Fries, age 4, helps her father, Theran, clear remembrance wreaths from Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 22, 2015. Volunteer service can help build and enhance careers for service members transitioning out of the service, according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's volunteer coordinators. (JBM-HH PAO photo by Jim Dresbach)
Abby Fries, age 4, helps her father, Theran, clear remembrance wreaths from Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 22, 2015. Volunteer service can help build and enhance careers for service members transitioning out of the service, according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's volunteer coordinators. (JBM-HH PAO photo by Jim Dresbach)

“We trust that you will accept this challenge and join ranks with the business leaders, volunteers and public servants in your communities,” the letter reads. “You have made your mark in uniform and represent the strength of our nation. We know you will do the same as veterans, setting the example for the next generation of veterans to follow.”

The campaign includes a focus on continued service and a coordinated outreach effort from across the nation's armed forces.

Kathryn Feehan, volunteer coordinator for Army Community Services on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base, was personally able to transition the volunteer experience she gained as an Army spouse into a completely new career field.

“Through volunteer work, I was able to gain new knowledge and experience and change the course of my career,” she said. “I was able to transition from a field I was unhappy in into something I enjoy doing every day.”

She said volunteering is ideal for family and transitioning service members who have been out of the civilian work force for a while, looking for a career change, or want to gain experience while giving back to the community.

“Many employers look at volunteer experience just as they would paid employment,” Feehan said.

Feehan added that volunteering also allows you to network with individuals you might not have met otherwise.

“We all know that networking is crucial when it comes to the job search,” she said. “Volunteering allows you to work side-by-side with individuals who are already in the types of jobs and offices you want to work in. What better way to network than letting them see you in action?”

Army Master Sgt. James Meyers, senior career counselor on the joint base is an active volunteer on the installation who can be found donating his time at many events.

“I think I get more back more than what I put in, especially when [helping] a child,” he said.

For more information on available volunteer opportunities, contact Layne at 703-693-1253 or via email at laynekd@usmc-mccs.org. Feehan can be reached at 703-696-3510 or via email at kathryn.k.feehan.civ@mail.mil.

By Julia LeDoux, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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