CSU SHRM: Helping Veterans Get Back to Work

Students at Cleveland State University are very busy people. Many have full-time jobs and family commitments in addition to school. You might think that a Saturday morning would be an ideal time to relax. For Michelle Hocevar, Vernon Kellogg, Anna Gibson and Brandon Griffin, students in the CSU chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it is quite the opposite. On the second Saturday morning of every month they are walking into the Veterans Domiciliary at Wade Park to work with our Veterans to prepare resumes and find jobs.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 13% of the adult homeless population in the United Sates are Veterans. The Veterans Domiciliary at Wade Park, made possible by a partnership with Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is a unique residence designed to help homeless veterans’ get back on their feet by combining rehabilitative clinical services with case management services in a state of the art 77,000 square foot facility. Many Veterans who enter the 6-month program at the “Dom” are suffering from mental health issues, substance abuse problems and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The main goal of the program is to rehabilitate in order for a Veteran to secure a job and housing and return to mainstream society.

When the students arrive, they are each paired up with a Veteran to work with one-on-one throughout the morning to translate the skills learned in the service and past employment into a complete resume. Charles Schmokel, a Veteran of the Air Force said, “I have been sending a lot of resumes out, but getting no calls. I’m hoping that the students can help me make my resume more marketable.” Many of the Veterans have little to no experience with programs such as Microsoft Word, so the students are teaching simple skills that are often taken for granted, such as saving a document.  

Sharon Martin, Development Officer at Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio has played a key role in connecting the students to the resume program at the Wade Domiciliary. “The students have a very different skill set with computer usage yet they are extraordinarily patient with the Veterans who are faced with a much different process for job applications. Most never needed resumes and many of their jobs were obtained the old-fashioned way, by filling out an application by hand.“

Michelle Hocevar, a student in CSU’s Monte Ahuja College of Business Master of Labor Relations and Human Resources program, took the initiative to contact Sharon in November 2012 and together they worked with the Veterans Resource Center and Sonya Thompkins, Clinical Supervisor at the “Dom” to put the resume project into motion. “I thought this project would be a great opportunity for the CSU SHRM Chapter to not only give back to the community, but to learn valuable skills that can be applied to the HR field,” said Michelle. In the coming months, Michelle hopes to expand the project and continue to help the Veterans with the employment process, such as interviewing and job searching.

“It has been a tremendous privilege working with the Veterans,” said Dr. Tracy Porter, CSU SHRM Advisor and Associate Lecturer in the Department of Management and Labor Relations. “It is easy to get involved in our own lives and forget the many difficulties our Veterans face when they return home. It is our hope to help the Vets develop a solid resume based on their years of experience which will move them quickly into a job.”

When a Saturday session is complete, both the students and the Veterans walk away with a little more confidence then they came in with. The students who are studying to work in the Human Resource field are gaining experience in communication and leadership that will only benefit them in future careers. The Veterans are closer to having a complete resume that will hopefully return them to the workforce. Each group is grateful for the other because although coming from uncommon places, they have found a common ground and learned from each other.

“It has been a very humbling experience,” said Anna Gibson, a Graduate student in Management and Labor Relations and Human Resources program. “The Vets we are working with all have different background stories but one thing in common – they selflessly served our country. For whatever reason they ended up at the ‘Dom’ trying to piece their lives back together. It is an honor to be able to give back to them.”

“The program gives me an opportunity to provide back to the community and working with my peers together applying classroom knowledge to the real world,” said Vernon Kellogg, pictured here working with Air Force Veteran Charles Schmokel. Said Brandon Griffin, “It is an honor to serve those who have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life.” James Thrasher, pictured here, is one of several Veterans who are getting resume preparation help from CSU SHRM students.



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Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, BU 420
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Monte Ahuja Hall, Room 420
1860 E. 18th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Phone: 216.687.3786

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