To assist U.S. military veterans and their families in making the transition back to civilian life, Google is joining together with three veterans’ groups to give returning service men and women a centralized starting point for finding jobs, careers and employment opportunities.
The new VetNet Website is the creation of Google and its three founding partners: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) and Hire Heroes USA.
“For several years now, we’ve been working to help the veteran community through outreach programs and by connecting veterans and their families to useful Google products and services,” Andy Berndt of Google’s Creative Lab wrote in a Nov. 28 post on the Official Google Blog. “After years of working with the community, we’ve come to realize that it isn’t more tools that are needed, but rather organizing the ones that already exist, and making them easier to find.”
That’s where the idea came for VetNet, wrote Berndt. “Perhaps the most complex challenge facing the veteran community today is the sheer volume of resources available to help them transition to civilian life. While this abundance is the measure of a grateful nation, and a tribute to those who served, in the end, the most important result is individuals and families getting the help they need.”
The VetNet site offers three tracks to follow, including a Basic Training Track, where vets and family members can start with things like resume writing and interviewing tips, to a Career Connections Track, where veterans can get employment information directly from companies such as Walmart, GE and Capital One. There’s also an Entrepreneur Track, which is an eight-week college-level course on the fundamentals of starting a business, for veterans and family members who are ready to branch out on their own.
Jaime Winne Alvarez, director of media relations and communications for the IVMF at Syracuse University, said helping veterans and their families has been a founding part of the institute since it was formed. That goal became even more important after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, she said.
“It just was a no-brainer to make that commitment,” said Alvarez. “Part of what we do is offer a portfolio of entrepreneurial training for this veteran’s community. The VetNet portal allows us to bring that training online and at no cost to those who are making that transition.”
Carrie Laureno, a Google Creative Lab employee who founded a Google for Veterans Group inside the company five years ago, was an integral part of the VetNet effort.
The new VetNet site is set up to make it easier for returning veterans and their families to get employment and career help that’s most relevant to them, without the distractions of having to visit a wide range of other resources, said Laureno.
Over time, Google and VetNet hope to grow the site to include additional resources from other veterans groups and from companies that want to hire vets and their family members.
Google Launches VetNet Site to Help Military Veterans Find Jobs
For Laureno, the VetNet site has personal meaning. Five years ago, on Oct. 29, 2007, U.S. Army Special Forces Capt. Jeffrey Calero, a former boyfriend, was killed while on a patrol with his division in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Calero, 34, from Queens, N.Y., stepped on an improvised explosive device while walking ahead of his unit’s Humvee and was killed instantly. Calero, who was a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, saved the lives of the rest of his men that day when the Humvee stopped before striking the bomb. He was promoted to the rank of major by the Army after his death.
“When he passed away, I became a veterans’ advocate,” said Laureno. Because she worked at Google, she was able to make that happen through the internal programs available for community projects inside the company.
“I felt that if Jeff were alive and he were transitioning after getting home, that he would want to work for Google,” Laureno said. “That’s how it was started. It was started in his honor.”
The internal Google group has grown since then to more than 600 members. “We do an incredible amount of volunteer work in the community,” she said. “We see the value of leveraging the opportunities in the G.I. Bill and giving them as much help as we can.”
But VetNet isn’t only for veterans and their families, she said.
It’s also a place where any citizens can get involved to show their thanks to the veterans and families that serve the United States, she said. “There are numerous ways for people to contribute,” said. Laureno. “We’re all just a few degrees of separation away from each other.”
Many Americans want to help vets but don’t know where to start, she said. Now they can start with VetNet.
“There is so much generosity out there,” said Laureno. “Every day, Americans want to do something to help and it’s not their fault that they don’t know how to help. We don’t make it easy for them. The idea was to give people at Google a way to help” and now this can spread even further.
“People can tell others about this site, and about the need for opportunities for vets and their families, and we can connect them,” said Laureno. “People can get involved, they can get on panels, they can do mentoring, they can hire vets and they can talk to hiring managers about vets. They can do all of these things.”
For Laureno, the best thing about VetNet is that it creates a useful starting point for vets and their families to come home and return to their civilian lives, far from war and destruction.
“This platform is going to enable people to do those types of things,” she said. “Let it be a destination and we’ll see where it goes. I can only imagine the incredible stories of generosity that will occur because we have a place for that to happen now.”
Whether citizens have served in the military, they can now lend a hand and thank the country’s our service people through their own service to vets, said Laureno.
“I’m most excited for people to finally have a place to go where they can offer their time,” she said. “These are opportunities to support that entire nuclear family, something on the order of 100 million Americans who are veterans.”