WHITELAND — RTV6'S Hiring Hoosiers initiative is dedicated to connecting Hoosiers to employment opportunities. That includes our veterans. More than 200,000 servicemen and women leave the military every year, and over half currently, face a period of unemployment.
Indiana's new program, INvets, is filling unfilled jobs with our nation's heroes.
"Oh yea absolutely, I'm not going anywhere," says William Carhuff, a new Indiana resident and a military veteran. The New Jersey native and former Mississippi homeowner, Carhuff, has no plans of leaving his Hoosier home anytime soon.
Carhuff was hired as a mechanic at Horner Industrial Group in Indianapolis, and he is all moved into a new home in Whiteland. The military veteran is settling in just fine after serving 20 years in the army as a helicopter mechanic. Carhauff says his transition to Indiana is all thanks to a new program in the state, INvets.
"Horner basically taught me everything from the ground up as far as what we do on a daily basis," explains Carhuff. "INvets was key to get me up here because it was their funding that actually helped me with the move."
INvets is a program that has been in operation for about two years. It serves as a connection point between service members, veterans, and military spouses across the nation to Indiana employers and resources.
"Historically, Indiana has one of the lowest veteran unemployment rates in the nation," says Wes Wood, the director of INvets. "We don't have enough veterans, and there is tons of great work opportunities across the state, but employers struggle to connect with these service members across the country that just don't know about the opportunities. So we go out, and we provide that connection point."
Wes says INvets makes those connections by visiting military bases. So far, Invets has placed and employed 80 veterans. The goal is to eventually get 5,000 new residents of veterans and their families per year.
"Common barriers veterans face is one, translation of what they did in the military to what you know in terms apply to the civilian world," says Wood. "Sometimes in the case of the folks here at Horner, they worked on aircrafts in the military, and now they are working on a different type of rotary motor herein on the civilian side, so it is just translating those skills. Other folks like myself, I was former infantry, sometimes those skills just don't directly apply, at least not the technical skills. But there are a lot of soft skills, leadership, teamwork, a lot of those things that do translate."
INvets has partnered with more than 120 companies across the state in different industry sectors, including tech, manufacturing, and logistics.
"We try to coach companies on how to, what types of military skills they might look for that might best fit within their organization," says Wood. "We also provide career pathways to veterans, help them identify what long term career goals they have and education they might need through a third party to achieve those goals."
Just at Horner Industrial Group, there are about 400 employees, and about 60 of them are veterans. Company hiring staff says they are always looking to hire more people to their team from the military.
"In Indiana we have got around 80,000 unfilled jobs across the state right now, and we need to be looking outside of our state's borders, and you need to be looking for a demographic that is highly mobile, that has a lot of those soft skills, that is coming out looking for a career shift, they are willing to get into a niche job that we are having trouble filling here," explains Wood. "There is no better demographic than the military and the veteran population out there."
For Carhuff, his skills from the military are slightly different from the job he has now at Horner, but he was able to learn the new parts of his trade easily.
"Basic mechanics is basic mechanics," says Carhuff. "I was an apache helicopter mechanic, so I mean we were working on turbine engines, gas, pumps, all that other fun stuff. Now on this side, it is more electrical. However, the basic, your basic values, and your basic fundamentals still apply back and forth."
INvets is providing a valuable resource for veterans to live and work as a Hoosiers successfully, and it is opening the state's doors for more people to call Indiana home.
"I had no idea there was any kind of programs like that out there," says Carhuff. "As a veteran, it, I mean it is outreach; it is as simple as outreach. When we get out, we don't really realize what is on the other side of the door, and it is good to know there is programs like Indiana Vets out there; it is very comforting."