Veteran Employment Resources

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"Finding pools of untapped talent to fill in-demand roles is a top priority for employers. Hiring military veterans has proven to be a successful strategy; in addition to gaining high-performing employees with low turnover, companies generally earn enormous goodwill from customers and a public-image boost when they commit to hiring more military veterans." 

-The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Supporting Our Heroes

News Report -- WAKA, Channel 8, Montgomery

vet-employment.pngAuburn University benefits from the knowledge, experience, skills and leadership of our employees who have served in the military. 

  • Supervisors who would like to learn more about supporting veterans through employment at Auburn should contact Jenna Richards, Employment Specialist, at jbr0040@auburn.edu or 334-844-4145.

  • Supervisors are also encouraged to watch the recordings from the recent conference, “Veteran Voices: Recruiting and Supporting Veteran Employees.” Auburn University Human Resources partnered with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services to offer this event. Supervisors who watch these videos will better understand the complexities of military careers and transitioning to the civilian workforce. Guest speakers from all military branches discussed these experiences and shared practical ways to recruit and retain veteran employees.

It is important for supervisors to understand and appreciate the unique situations that veteran employees face. Military culture, terminology, experiences and career paths can be unfamiliar to those who haven’t served. However, supervisors who support veterans and understand what they bring to the workforce often find it easier to recruit and retain these valuable employees.

Email jbr0040@auburn.edu if you have any questions that are not answered on the website.

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Just the Facts

veteran.png

200,000

Veterans who leave the armed forces each year (SHRM)

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15.6%

Percentage that veterans are more likely to be underemployed, when compared to non-veterans job seekers (SHRM)

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39%

Percentage that veterans are more likely to be promoted in filling larger roles than their counterparts. (-U.S. Veterans Magazine)

Conference Videos

The following videos are from the Veteran Voices conference and are provided by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. 

"Building a Path to Success for Veteran Employees" - Paulette Risher

Owner, Learning for the Journey, LLC

President/CEO, Still Serving Veterans

"How Auburn Supports Student Veterans" - Paul "Puck" Esposito

Veterans Resource Center Director, Auburn University

"Military Leadership" - Kent Davis

Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.), Commissioner, Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs

more videos

"Transitioning from the Military" - Glenville Challenger

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers

"Who are Today’s Service Members?" - Lt. Col. Michelle Alexander

Alabama National Guard

"Transitioning Soldiers and the Career Skills Program (CSP)" - Eddie Perez

Transition Service Manager, Fort Benning

more videos 2

"Veterans are Valuable Resources" - Charles Livings

Director of Outreach and Engagement, Still Serving Veterans

"Transitioning from the Miltary" - Heath McNaughton

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), Alabama Air National Guard

"Best Practices, Department of Defense Skillbridge Program" - John Sweatman

Project Manager, Economic Development, City of Opelika

more videos 3

"Welcome" - Ron Burgess (LTG)

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Auburn University

"Veterans with Disabilities" - Anna Doeren-Taylor

Business Relations Specialist, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services

"Making the Connection: Understanding Military Occupations" - Steve Tillery and Victor Dennis

Koch Industries

Speaker Lineup - 2022


Meet the Presenters

burgess.jpgLt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. retired from the U.S. Army as the 17th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. Throughout his 38-year Army career, and in his roles with Auburn, Burgess has continued to serve the U.S. intelligence community by providing leadership and strategic vision that contributes to safeguarding U.S. national security interests. He is also a former acting principal deputy director of national intelligence.

After being commissioned in military intelligence through the Auburn University ROTC program in 1974, Burgess held a variety of key staff and command positions throughout his military career. General officer assignments include Director of Intelligence, J2, U.S. Southern Command; Director of Intelligence, J2, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Customer Outcomes transitioning to Director of the Intelligence Staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The former DIA director returned to Auburn in December 2012 to serve as senior counsel for National Security, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs, before being appointed as Auburn’s chief operating officer in 2018, and Executive Vice President in 2019. 

Burgess was honored in 2013 by the Auburn Alumni Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, he was inducted into the United States Army Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and, in 2016, was inducted into the Army ROTC National Hall of Fame.

He earned a master’s in education from the University of Southern California in 1980 and a master’s in military arts and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1986. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from LaGrange College in 2015 and received an honorary doctorate from Stetson University in 2017. On July 27, 2018, he received an honorary doctorate of strategic intelligence degree from the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, Maryland.

davis,-kent.jpgRear Admiral W. Kent Davis, USN (Retired) became the seventh Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs on Feb. 19, 2019, upon selection by the State Board of Veterans Affairs. As Commissioner, he manages the agency’s operations, coordinates mission execution, and oversees the work of approximately 1,200 state and contractor employees in 70 facilities throughout Alabama. He also manages an annual agency budget of over $190 million as well as state benefits and services for approximately 400,000 Alabama Veterans and their families.

The son of a combat-wounded World War II U.S. Army Veteran, Commissioner Davis was born in Montgomery and also grew up in Atlanta and New Orleans. A National Merit Scholar, he attended Louisiana State University on an academic scholarship, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1985. Enlisting in the Navy Reserve while attending college, upon graduation from LSU he was commissioned as an active duty Navy officer, and was assigned to the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) for a three-year tour, stationed in Long Beach, Calif. Aboard the MISSOURI, he deployed to the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War (for Operation Earnest Will) and off the coast of the Soviet Union in the northern Pacific. He served as both an Assistant Supply Officer and a Gun Director Officer for the 5- and 16-inch guns aboard MISSOURI.

He was later stationed at Naval Air Station Atlanta and aboard the aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) in Alameda, California. While aboard ABRAHAM LINCOLN, he deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch in the wake of Operation Desert Storm and to Somalia in the wake of the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993.

Commissioner Davis left the active duty Navy in 1994 to attend law school on the GI Bill. He attended Georgia State University Law School in Atlanta and served as Editor-in Chief of the school’s law review. He also studied one semester abroad at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, where he received a certificate in Dispute Resolution in 1996. He stayed in the Navy Reserve throughout law school.

Upon receiving his Juris Doctor degree (magna cum laude) in 1998, Commissioner Davis went back on active military duty with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he served as a trial counsel and ethics attorney at Fort McPherson, Ga., in the rank of Major. After two years with the Army, he left active duty again, rejoined the Navy Reserve, and worked for two years full-time at the large law firm of King & Spalding in Atlanta. While serving in the Navy Reserve, he was assigned to such commands as U.S. Central Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and the Navy Office of Information at the Pentagon.

After the 9/11 attacks, Commissioner Davis joined the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in his civilian career and stayed with that department for 14 years, first assigned to the office of Secretary Tom Ridge in D.C. as one of his staff attorneys. From there, he practiced and taught law at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia.  In 2006, he was transferred to the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama and served as Senior Legal Counsel and then Deputy Superintendent at that large Homeland Security training facility. While working in Anniston, he was recalled to active duty twice by the Navy, for ground deployments in conjunction with Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 and then to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2012. In 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and completed numerous periods of active duty at the Pentagon in his role as Vice Chief of Information for the Navy.

In 2016, Commissioner Davis retired from the military after almost 31 years in uniform and also became the Director of Economic Development and then City Manager of Anniston for almost two years. In late 2017, he was hired as the (civilian) Director of Communication and Outreach at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base and moved back to his hometown of Montgomery.

Commissioner Davis is the recipient of many military and civilian awards, and has published numerous scholarly pieces in legal journals, college textbooks, and defense publications around the nation.

Commissioner Davis has been married to Lieutenant Commander Lisa Davis, USN (Retired) for 32 years. They have a daughter who is a student at the University of Alabama and a son who is a student at Auburn University.

Alexander.pngD. Michelle Alexander (LTC) is the Deputy for the G1/ Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) for the Alabama Army National Guard.

Her primary duty is general oversight of and coordination among the administrative/clerical staff. She performs within a broad framework of established policy and regulations, working closely with the DCSPER to perform duties and special functions in planning, organizing, guiding and controlling the DCSPER's administrative programs. As consultant and personal advisor to the DCSPER on executive and administrative matters, she performs as the principal action officer for developing and recommending DCSPER administrative policy and monitors policy implementation and compliance. Her duties include gathering information and data for the preparation of recurring and special reports while establishing procedures for collecting data for the preparation of reports. She composes original and reply memorandums for her supervisor's signature and has full signatory authority in absence of DCSPER. She relieves the DCSPER of routine administrative tasks and problems to the maximum extent possible.

She graduated from Stanhope Elmore High School in 1993, received a Bachelors of Science in Sports Medicine in 1997 and her Masters in Public Administration at Columbia Southern University in 2019. She completed her certificate in Medical Billing and Coding in 2021.

She joined the Alabama Army National Guard in 1995 as a cadet assigned to the 131st MPAD and was commissioned as the First Female from Troy State University ROTC in 1998. She served as the Plans Officer and Detachment Commander for the 1200th Quartermaster Battalion. She was mobilized as a Platoon Leader for the 1670th Transportation Company and returned to serve as the S1 in 1-131st Aviation Battalion. She joined the AGR program in 2003 with the 22nd Recruiting and Retention Battalion serving as Specialty Branch Recruiter, Officer Strength Manager, S-4 and S-1. She became a Company Commander in 2007 for the FSC, 877th Engineer Battalion with a tour in Afghanistan in 2009.

She served as the XO/AO/Deputy CERFP Commander with the 145th CBRN Battalion. She came back to her roots in 2017 and took Command of the 22nd Recruiting and Retention Battalion. She transitioned to JFHQ, DCSPER section first as the Personnel Actions Division Chief and then to Deputy, which is her current position.

A few of her awards include Meritorious Service Medals, Bronze Star Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and NATO medal.

Her military schooling includes the Advanced Operations Course, Advanced Chemical Defense Course, ILE, Support Operations Course, Senior Officers Transportation Course, Adjutants General Captain Career Course, Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, and Quartermaster Officer Basic Course.

esposito.jpgCaptain Paul Esposito, USN (Ret.), is the Director of the Veterans Resource Center at Auburn University.

He is a native of Old Bethpage, N.Y., holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing and management from Siena College, and a master’s in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

A 30-year Navy veteran and aviator, his career includes assignments with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 15, Canadian Forces’ Maritime Helicopter Squadron 423, USS Nassau LHA-4, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 3, and as the executive and commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 5.

Assignments to shore and staff billets include Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 1, CHSWL Weapons Training Unit, Head Officer Promotion Plans, Chief Staff Officer CHSWL, and Executive Secretariat for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. He also served as Commander Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, the largest and most diverse aviation wing in the U.S. Navy.

Prior to taking over as director of the AU Veterans Resource Center, he served as the commanding officer of the Auburn-Tuskegee NROTC consortium from July 2013 until August 2016.

Eric GerritsonEric Gerritson is the Owner of Beyond The Target Solutions, LLC.

Beyond The Target Solutions encourages “Third Order Thinking,” or, as Joe Balcom relates, [it’s] “The Mount Everest of cognitive performance. It’s a climb few people ever attempt, and even fewer ever reach the summit. It’s the kind of thinking that burns calories, takes effort, and requires a lot of brainpower. But when you reach the top, you’ll see the world from a perspective that no one else can.”

A native of California, Eric has over 37-years of complex government, education, and industry networking and collaboration experience specializing in developing highly productive public-public and public-private partnership alliances. Before starting his company, he was the Collaboration Principal at MGMWERX, an innovation hub leveraging the intellectual capital of academia and industry on behalf of the US Air Force and US Space Force to identify innovative solutions meeting national security requirements.

While at MGMWERX, Eric’s efforts helped garner his team with the Top Innovation idea in the US Air Force at “Spark Tank 2020”. Equally, as a Project Manager, he oversaw the development, construction, and testing of an aerially deployed free-standing intranet system organized by dropping hundreds of small yet powerful computing devices encased in protective polyurethane out of an aircraft. Each device activates after resting on the ground, creating a stand-alone communications network for allied ground forces that an enemy could not hack. The entire project cost the Air Force customer less than $70,000 from concept to minimum viable product, and now is actively in use worldwide.

Before MGMWERX, in 2016, Eric was recognized for creating and sustaining the most robust partnership program in the National Guard, conferring his program as one of the Top-5 partnership programs in the entire US Army. Recently, Eric was awarded a Certificate from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for completing the Helping Potential SBIR/STTR1 Applicants program. His other areas of expertise include Business Development Networking, Program Management, Public-Public Partnerships, Facilitation, Strategic Planning, Asset Management, Intergovernmental Support Agreements, Employee Mentorship, and Team Integration.

As a retired Air Force veteran, Eric spent seven years teaching enlisted leadership and management studies at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Air University in Montgomery. For more information, go to https://www.beyondthetarget.com/.

risher.jpgPaulette Risher is the owner of Learning for the Journey, LLC.  She is also twice retired, once as a civilian Organizational Psychologist with the United States Air Force and once as a Major General (2-Star) in the United States Army. With 34-years of active and reserve service, Paulette was the first woman to serve in U.S. Special Operations Command as a flag-officer. Returning to active duty after 9/11, Paulette served as the President of the Joint Special Operations University, the Director of U.S. Special Operations Command’s Center for Knowledge and Future (J7/J9), and as the Deputy Commander for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs. Upon leaving active duty, Paulette joined Booz Allen Hamilton and led their Organization, Strategy, and Learning team in Huntsville for three years and subsequently served as the Principal Director for Huntsville Operations for DigiFlight, Inc.

Today, Paulette serves as the President/CEO of Still Serving Veterans (SSV), a Huntsville-based non-profit. SSV's mission is to serve and honor Veterans and their families by empowering them to build meaningful lives through connections to fulfilling careers, benefits and services; and to proactively strengthen Veteran communities through leadership and collaboration. Prior to assuming the position of President/CEO, Paulette served as SSV's Chief Programs Officer for five years

Paulette is a lifelong learner. She holds a BS and MA in Psychology, as well as an MEd. Paulette has completed the Fundamentals of Positive Psychology Certification Program from University of Pennsylvania and is a certified TrueColors facilitator. Paulette is a graduate of both the Army War College and the Air War College.

Paulette is a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Positive Psychology Association, the Society of Military Psychologist, the American Evaluation Association, the Association of the United States Army, and the Women's Economic Development Council (WEDC)

Paulette serves as Veteran Employment Committee Chair for the Alabama Veterans Network (AlaVetNet), a Governor’s Commission challenged with building public-private partnerships to meet the needs of Alabama’s large Veteran population.  Paulette also serves on the Alabama Workforce Development Commission and the Alabama Small Business Advisory Council. Additionally, Paulette is Chair of the Alabama Task Force on Veterans’ Suicide and co-chair for the Alabama Governor’s Challenge for Prevention of Veteran Suicide.  

dennis.pngVictor Dennis joined Koch Industries in 2007 after 20 years of military service, culminating as a First Sergeant (Senior Enlisted Infantry Advisor) of a task force of 180 soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His US Army military career includes eight deployments and two combat tours while assigned to multiple rapid deployment Infantry Divisions that ended June 2004.

His civilian journey with Koch Industries includes the following roles:

  • Military Recruitment Leader, Koch Ind Corporate, Talent Selection (February 2018 – Present)

  • HR Manager, Georgia-Pacific/ Packaging, Cedar Springs Operations (May 2017 – February 2018)

  • Area HR Manager, Georgia-Pacific/ Gypsum, West & Specialty Region (October 2015 – May 2017)

  • Manager EEO/ HR Compliance, Georgia-Pacific/ Building Products Division (April 2014 – Oct 2015)

  • Labor Relations Manager, Georgia-Pacific/ Consumer Products Division (June 2013 – April 2014)

  • HR Generalist, Georgia-Pacific/ Consumer Products Division (February 2011 – June 2013)

  • Manufacturing Team Lead, Georgia-Pacific/ Corporate (June 2010 – February 2011)

  • Senior Recruiter, Georgia-Pacific/ Packaging Division (December 2007 – June 2010)

Outside of work he enjoys giving back to the community, serving as a USO of GA Board Member and Wounded Warrior Project Alumni & Peer Supporter.

tillery.pngIn December 1985, Steve Tillery joined The Alabama National Guard. He is still currently serving with his last assignment as Group Command Sergeant Major of the 111th Explosive Ordnance Group in Opelika. He has served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom (2006) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2014), and in multiple domestic operations with the last operation being attached to the Alabama of Public Health in support of COVID-19.

His civilian journey with Koch Industries includes the following roles:

  • Military Program Manager, Koch Ind Corporate, Talent Selection (January 2019 – Present)

  • Training and Development Manager, Georgia-Pacific/ Packaging, Cedar Springs Operations (2014- 2019)

  • Crew Leader, Georgia-Pacific (2009-2014)

  • Hourly Production Worker Linerboard Machine, Georgia-Pacific 1991-2009

taylor.pngAnna Taylor earned her bachelor's degree from Troy University in 1999 where she studied rehabilitation and psychology. After graduating from college, she worked at a private university providing admissions and career counseling services. In 2000, she was recruited into the staffing industry where she remained until 2010 as an Executive Recruiter. Taylor provided talent acquisition for all lines of business throughout the River Region specializing in physician recruitment, C-suite, manufacturing, legal, banking, accounting, insurance and government contracting.

She began her second career with the State of Alabama, Department of Rehabilitation Services as a Business Relations Consultant in 2011. She recently completed her master’s in counseling in 2018 and moved into a business specialist role where she oversees new staff and provides training for business and industry on diversity and inclusion initiatives related to hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities. She serves on a variety of military and veteran committees and is a passionate about helping services members with disabilities connect to employment.

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Additional Resources

Auburn University is committed to an inclusive and diverse campus environment, which includes hiring and retaining veteran employees.

We recognize the valuable experience, skills, knowledge and leadership that our veterans apply to their work at Auburn. We would also like to provide practical ways for Auburn University supervisors to support veteran employment.

Please take advantage of the following resources to learn more about veteran employment and ways to support veterans in the workplace:

We Want to Hear from You!

If you have ideas on how Auburn University can support veteran employment, or would like to offer ways that your department has already contributed to these efforts, please contact jbr0040@auburn.edu.

Thank you for supporting veteran employment and for joining us in our efforts to recruit more veterans. For those supervisors who served in the military or are currently serving, we are grateful for your service to our country and to Auburn University.

Last updated: 04/05/2022