#VeteransDay: Supporting Our Veterans at the State Department

Posted by Bonnie Jenkins
November 11, 2015
Firefighters and Veterans unfurl a flag before a departure ceremony for soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve 11th Military Police Brigade, in Wilkes-Barre, PA

As the country draws close to another anniversary to honor our nation’s veterans, we thank the brave men and women who have given their time, dedicated their lives, and made many other sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans.

To support our veterans, the U.S. Department of State has made efforts to elevate their voices within the Department. This support includes understanding the unique skills and experiences veterans bring as leaders within our organization. According to recent State Department statistics, 26 percent of full-time permanent employees are veterans and many of them are in management and leadership positions.

The Veterans@State Affinity Group is in its second year and works to bring together the many former military service members at the Department. The group provides a network where they can learn about each other’s involvement and activities, build a support system, and provide information on volunteer opportunities and other assistance to veterans.

For example, the Veterans@State group recently raised awareness among veterans of a program called “Connected Warriors,” which helps veterans and their families deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through therapeutic yoga. The program offers trauma-conscious yoga therapy to service members, veterans, and their families nationwide at no cost at five active-duty military bases in the United States and Afghanistan along with educational programs to our nation's heroes. 

In an effort to provide more assistance to our veterans, the Department recently hired a Veteran Employment Program Manager who is charged with helping to promote employment opportunities for veterans at the Department, provide mandatory annual training to human resources personnel and hiring managers about veterans’ employment, and identify key opportunities for State to provide job counseling and training to better enable veterans to meet our staffing needs.

Through our recent initiative, the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) fellowship program, the Department has begun welcoming a number of veterans for one-year assignments. VIP is a public-private alliance aimed at serving America’s current and future veterans by preparing them for diplomacy and development careers. It also provides educational and employment resources as well as expertise while enhancing America’s global leadership. VIP focuses on engagement to support veterans’ transitions to other public policy careers through the principles of education, fellowship, and employment. The first class of VIPs arrived earlier this year with 12 fellows, and there are currently 20 VIPs in the second class. In addition to filling important roles within their offices and learning about the Department through regular brownbags, they meet regularly with senior officials and are launching a mentor program in coordination with Veterans@State.

This year’s the Department looks forward to our Roll Call on November 12 which acknowledges the contribution of veterans to our country. This will mark the thirteenth consecutive year the Department has hosted an event as part of this initiative.

As we celebrate this Veterans Day, we are proud of the many veterans we have among our ranks at the State Department and look forward to greater opportunities to connect with them as leaders, mentors, and individual dedicated to public service.

About the Author: Bonnie JenkinsU.S. Navy Reserve (Ret.), serves as the State Department's Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs and the Veterans@State Leadership Liaison.

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