U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew M. Miller Discusses Military Employment Issues, Strategizes with UNCW Student Vets

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

U.S. Department of Labor’s Matthew M. Miller, the deputy assistant secretary for policy of veterans’ employment and training services, was on campus last Thursday to meet with UNCW’s Office of Military Affairs and speak with student veterans about their obstacles and opportunities in today’s workforce.

Miller noted that half of the nation’s service members go to school immediately after they transition out of the military. He asked UNCW’s student veterans about the challenges they have faced while pursuing their degrees and entering the civilian employment process.

To help answer those questions, Office of Military Affairs employees Siobhan Norris, Bill Kawczynski and Ashley Adamovage, along with Rebecca Christiansen from UNCW’s Career Center, invited a group of student veterans to provide their unique perspectives on the interventions and programs that they found most useful during their transitions.

“As part of the Student Veterans Organization, one of the most important things that we do is to focus on the details, the small things,” said Jay Richardson, SVO vice president. “We try to mitigate potential points of friction and smooth them out for the veterans. We believe that if you start fixing these little friction points, it makes the whole process easier and improves the bigger picture.”

Some of the friction points discussed ranged from inadequate resume preparation to insufficient accreditation for skills obtained during military service. UNCW’s Office of Military Affairs has been working alongside these student organizations to address issues at a localized level.

“We have designed a comprehensive transition model for student veterans that helps them navigate through the bureaucracy of the institution,” said Norris, military student services specialist. “It is a peer-to-peer mentorship program that includes a tailored orientation for military-affiliated students and a transition course that helps with their resume and career building. We also work to interpret their non-cognitive skills and show them how they can use those skills successfully as they move toward graduation and beyond.”

This transition model has garnered more than just student interest and increased enrollment, it has shaped the way the campus community operates. UNCW recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes to further enhance student services and expand university reach, both key priorities of the university’s Strategic Plan.

-- Christina Schechtman