Each year, more than 300,000 U.S. troops complete their military service, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization. For many veterans, the shift from military life to civilian life can be difficult, particularly during economically challenging times. The barriers to re-integration are many, ranging from to reestablishing relationships with spouses and family to coping with the physical and emotional traumas that often accompany a return from active duty. In addition, many veterans find that the skills and proficiencies acquired through their military experience are often not understood by civilian employers.
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In 2009, UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine (CWM) division established the CWM Veterans Associates Program to assist Massachusetts veterans with transitioning into the civilian workforce. This initiative provides up to two qualified veterans with an opportunity to gain hands-on, civilian work experience during a one-year employment period with CWM. As a result, veterans are able to develop critical new skills and adapt their existing proficiencies for a new environment. Upon successful completion of the program, veterans may be transitioned into regular positions within Commonwealth Medicine, enabling the organization to further diversify its workforce. Veteran Eric Cousins is the program’s first participant and completed his role as an associate in CWM’s Human Resources office in late October. He has been transitioned into a permanent position there. This video outlines his experience. For more information about the CWM Veteran’s Associate Program, contact Assistant Director of Human Resources Clara Orlando, JD, at firstname.lastname@example.org..