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KERN BACK IN BUSINESS: Putting veterans to work

Kern Patriot Partnership helping Kern County vets
Posted: 12:03 PM, Nov 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-07 20:03:28Z

In 2015 Kern County started a program to get veterans from active duty transitioned to a civilian career. That program is called Kern Patriot Partnership or KPP. 

Amanda Macintosh is a veteran who is using KPP to find a new civilian career. She said she joined the United States Air Force after high school in 2006. Macintosh said, "I was a senior airman in the United States Air Force stationed in Spangdahlem, Germany, then Scott Air Force Base Illinois."

While stationed abroad Macintosh was in charge of transportation logistics or helping other service men and women move from base to base.

"When you PCS or move to a new duty station you come talk to me. So I worked in the passenger terminal, the cargo department and household goods," said Macintosh.
 
In 2012 Macintosh left the military to become a stay at home mom. After three years of maternity she decided it was time to return to school and find a new career.

While enrolled at California State University Bakersfield she learned about the veteran job placement program called Kern Patriot Partnership. The program director, Josh Dhanens, said college campuses are one of the places they look for veterans searching for a civilian career.

"Our staff has been out to B.C. to help veterans. Been out to Cal State, here in Bakersfield, the main campus to work with veterans on their resumes," said Dhanens.

Dhanens says a grant from chevron helps fund the program, which helps transition active duty military to civilian careers.

"We have veterans signup. We have staff that helps them with their resumes, they go over interview skills. And really kinds of, we make sure a veteran can translate his or her service into something a civilian employer would understand," said Dhanens.

Dhanens said KPP has a network of employers in Kern County who have agreed to give veterans a first look or are at least willing to look at a veteran's resume before filling their open position. One of those companies is World Wind and Solar, an energy company in Tehachapi. Their human resource director, Tracey Keefe, said their partnership with KPP has been great from the start.

"They were able to provide wonderful candidates right out of the gate and several of the are still working with us," said Keefe.

Keefe said she is a veteran herself. She spent twenty years in the navy flying helicopters. She sadi when she tried to transition to a civilian career she struggled at the start when she was applying by herself.

"Five months that I was looking on my own, I was floundering I was lost. I did not get a single callback. It was just a super frustrating experience," said Keefe.

Keefe said when she sees a KPP veteran apply for a job at World wind and solar, she knows while the suit might be different, the military attitude is still there.

"They come prepared ready to work, they have a great work ethic, they are super reliable, they know the meaning of teamwork, they look after each other well, they're just really dedicated professionals," said Keefe.
 
For an applicant going through the process, like Macintosh, she said she wants to put her military skills to use in the civilian world. Macintosh said she's interested in being a therapist for children. And she thinks her time working to defuse conflicts moving service men and women was great hands on experience.

"I would be the calm person. So they would say Macintosh go and talk to them because you're the nice one. Go calm them down," said Macintosh.
 
Dhanens said for veterans like Macintosh all they need to do is either email or show up to the KPP office on Golden State Avenue and to bring their resume and previous experience with them.

"It's really important that veterans know that they've earned benefits that are going to help them with schooling. And then what we can do is help them take the skills they learned in the service, their education and then translate that into the civilian workforce," said Dhanens.

Macintosh said it's not just her military work they've helped her translate onto her resume.

"Volunteer work. All those things I did on the side. You know you kind of just do it, but don't write it down."

With a year left at CSUB Macintosh said she confident KPP will help her get her set up with a career. But first she said he hopes KPP can help her get a job soon while she's still in school. 

Macintosh said the experience has been so good for her so far that she recommends it for any veteran in her shoes.

"Get in touch with Penny because they can open up a lot of doors. And especially if you don't know how to write your resume. I mean that's step one," said Macintosh.

And Macintosh hopes one of those doors opens to her new civilian career.

For more information about KPP visit their website www.kernpatriot.org/

Or email them at:  info4vets@kerncounty.com