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Veterans in the workforce, leadership focus of School of Business conference

Veterans+Edwin+Hernandez%2C+Ron+Wyley+and+Jason+Brown%2C+along+with+Eric+Kizina%2C+current+army+member%2C+explore+Pittsburgh+during+a+scavenger+hunt+to+find+landmarks+as+part+of+the+Veterans+Joint+Leadership+Initiative.++
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Veterans in the workforce, leadership focus of School of Business conference

Veterans Edwin Hernandez, Ron Wyley and Jason Brown, along with Eric Kizina, current army member, explore Pittsburgh during a scavenger hunt to find landmarks as part of the Veterans Joint Leadership Initiative.

Veterans Edwin Hernandez, Ron Wyley and Jason Brown, along with Eric Kizina, current army member, explore Pittsburgh during a scavenger hunt to find landmarks as part of the Veterans Joint Leadership Initiative.

Photo by Chloe Jakiela

Veterans Edwin Hernandez, Ron Wyley and Jason Brown, along with Eric Kizina, current army member, explore Pittsburgh during a scavenger hunt to find landmarks as part of the Veterans Joint Leadership Initiative.

Photo by Chloe Jakiela

Photo by Chloe Jakiela

Veterans Edwin Hernandez, Ron Wyley and Jason Brown, along with Eric Kizina, current army member, explore Pittsburgh during a scavenger hunt to find landmarks as part of the Veterans Joint Leadership Initiative.

Written By Robert Berger

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The School of Business hosted the second annual Veterans Joint leadership Initiative Sept. 23. The program gives veterans from various organizations a chance to network and discuss how their workplaces handle veteran integration into the workforce.

The initiative kicked off in Village Park with military-style field exercises. Veterans separated into two groups of four and began a city-wide scavenger hunt. Each group received three envelopes with clues to guide them to different Pittsburgh landmarks. The veterans worked together to decipher each clue.

“I thought the exercises were very good,” said Jason Brown, Western Regional Manager of the State Civil Service Commission and Point Park alumnus. “It gives you a different perspective. You can just state an idea, but you gain respect through actually doing something, which is more lasting.”

Veterans were led to landmarks through a scavenger hunt from Fort Pitt and the Monongahela House from which explorers Lewis and Clark began their journey. The final exercise led the groups back to the Lawrence Hall multipurpose room for lunch and a conference. A luncheon catered by Primanti Brother’s and Eat N’ Park allowed attendees to spend time networking with one another.

The conference featured Chris Phillips, military recruiter for PNC Bank, who led a discussion covering a variety of topics. Phillips began by providing her background, explaining that the day after she graduated high school, she began active duty. After working at Chrysler and UPMC, she now works at PNC as a veteran’s recruiter.

“Transitioning is a struggle, and it continues to be a challenge in corporate America, but you’re not alone,” Phillips said.

Phillips went on to explain that in each of the organizations represented, initiative is the key to success.

“Initiative is a very important word to be using in each of your organizations, because you want it to go from being an initiative to a program,” Phillips said.

Each veteran in the room had a chance to speak about how their organization works with veteran affairs programs and integrates them in the workforce.

Eventually, the group came to an agreement that a major reason veterans are struggling with transitioning is because they don’t know resources like these exist.

“’How do they know how to find us?’ Do you know that’s the number one thing that we hear from veterans? ‘I don’t know how to find the job,’” Phillips said.

It was mentioned that many veterans avoid attending veteran-related events because many times it’s just a photo op for publicity.

After a 20 minute recess, the conference continued as Annie Hamburg of the Pittsburgh Cultural trust shared details via Skype on the upcoming show “Basetrack” that will be playing at the Byham Theater.

“Basetrack” is a live documentary that features a cast and crew of veterans that centers around war and its impact. Hamburg stressed that the main objective of “Basetrack” is to have veterans talk and help them to feel comfortable when discussing experiences and what is on their mind.

Shortly into the Skype call, Hamburg asked, “how many veterans are in attendance?”

Nearly everyone raised his or her hand.

She then asked, “how many of you talk to your family members about your experience?”

Every hand fell to their lap.

Dr. Patrick Mulvihill, visiting assistant professor of business, expressed his satisfaction with the events.

“We doubled our attendance from last year,” Mulvihill said. “This is an event that is growing, and we hope it keeps on growing so we can have something like this every year.”

Steve Tanzilli, chair of the Department of Management, played a key role in the event coming together.

“Veteran affairs is something that is important to me, so I wanted to do more to get them accustomed to higher education, and we have been able to do that,” Tanzilli said.

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