Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will work with Ohio leaders, universities and others to find ways to encourage employers to hire more veterans, a top base leader said Wednesday.
Col. Cassie B. Barlow, the outgoing commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson, gave an overview to state, local and academia leaders Wednesday at Wright State University of how to help the influx of departing service members transition to civilian careers.
“We have quite a few veterans that are transitioning as we draw down the military over the next few years,” Barlow said, one day before she was due to retire from the Air Force. “It’s in our interest in the military to help with that transition.”
For the first time in years, thousands of service members will not have the option of a full military career because of the draw down, said state Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield.
Barlow and Ohio State Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey said more collaborative efforts will be needed to ease military personnel into civilian jobs.
A transition assistance program added extra classes at Wright-Patterson to help about 1,600 active-duty, reservists and National Guardsmen from seven states make the transition to civilian life within the last year.
“We’re doing a lot of things right … but there are potentially some holes that we can fill,” Barlow said.
Barlow, who said her opinions were her own, recommended setting up a task force on the issue, and working with local universities to translate military experience into college credentials.
The work should start with a small group of veterans, she said.
One obstacle departing military personnel often face is translating what their job was in the military to a comparable civilian career, or earning college credit for their time in uniform.
State lawmakers have tried to ease the transition. In June, Gov. John Kasich signed legislation that requires uniform standards for awarding credit for military experience at the state’s public colleges and universities and state boards that issue licenses and certifications. The program is to be in place by next year.
Wright-Patterson, meanwhile, has five key areas where its employment needs will be the greatest in the next decade, Barlow said.
Those include: Purchasing managers; architectural and engineering managers; managers in general; financial analysts; and electronics engineers.
Wright-Patterson is the largest single-site employer in the state with more than 27,000 military and civilian employees and a $4.4 billion annual economic impact.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.