Veteran and Wounded Warrior programs thrive virtually at NSWCDD despite pandemic
From Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division:
Marietto Jeffries never imagined how crucial his idea to keep veterans connected, informed and engaged at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) would become during a pandemic. Jeffries founded the ‘Veterans Connected’ newsletter several years ago to provide consistent communication of relevant information to government employees and defense contractors who served, or currently serve, in the U.S. armed forces.
“There is nothing quiet about veterans programs as a result of this pandemic,” said Jeffries, the NSWCDD Veterans Employment Special Emphasis Program Manager (SEPM). “Veterans programs are ongoing and accessible virtually and veteran voices continue to be strong. The ‘Veterans Connected’ newsletter continues to provide insight and information.”
The monthly publication – emailed to NSWCDD subscribers – features news about veterans benefits and opportunities related to education, scholarships, resource groups, Veterans Administration care for women, minority veterans, dependents and survivors, and the list goes on. At times, it features a special message from Jeffries as the Veterans SEPM. “There is no program at the Warfare Center that is not available to our veteran workforce,” said Jeffries, citing that the equal employment office, workforce inclusion, and employee resource groups available to all employees are supporting veterans to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed. “NSWC Dahlgren continues our connection to more than 23 different veteranbased organizations previously hosted at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus. I consider the various Dahlgren or NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) programs available to veteran employees and contractors beneficial to maintaining a strong work life balance.”
Prior to the pandemic, Jeffries – principle for safety over various command programs – could be found participating in Veteran Integration events at NSWCDD. As a panel member at one such event, he spoke about the impact that three mentors had upon his career. The panel of NSWCDD civilian leaders and technical experts shared career tips and strategies and discussed how veterans can leverage the expertise they developed in the military. They also discussed resources such as mentoring and increased networks to build successful civilian careers.
Natasha Holloway – NSWCDD Employee Engagement Program Manager – launched the Veteran Integration initiative to facilitate new opportunities for connection and networking among NSWCDD veterans in person.
“In a world where we are increasingly connected through social media and other like platforms, we seem to have less face-to-face interaction,” said Holloway prior to the pandemic. “Veteran Integration strives to provide another opportunity for connection in the workplace through the establishment of these mentoring partnerships and our monthly events.”
In the meantime, Holloway – and Courtney Prosise, NAVSEA enterprise staffing, classification and compensation program analyst – are working with liaisons throughout the NAVSEA enterprise to develop a community of interest that meets virtually to collaborate across the enterprise on current programs. The collaboration also involves programs and web-based tools in development such as the Veteran Wounded Warrior iNAVSEA enterprise collaboration site that will roll out in spring 2021.
The NAVSEA Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program Office (VWWPO) hosts this internal iNAVSEA collaboration site – accessible with a common access card (CAC) – to serve as an information portal with information and best practices on recruiting, hiring and retaining Veterans and Wounded Warriors.
The VWWPO also developed a unique networking capability called the V&WW talent network at https://navsea. recsolu.com/external/form/ x0sKIcniQcOLrgoc8p_lUg. “We added the Veteran Wounded Warrior Talent Network link to our public site and encourage any wounded warrior or veteran looking for a career to register and submit his or her resume,” said Prosise. “The talent profiles that are submitted are located in a database that has a multitude of managers and recruiters across the NAVSEA enterprise with access to those resumes. Whenever hiring managers source for candidates in the talent network, there’s a much higher visibility compared to just that manual process of emailing your resume which gets forwarded
to a few people and hoping that someone gets hired.”
The community of interest – comprising site liaisons at the warfare centers, shipyards, regional maintenance centers and NAVSEA headquarters – is meeting via the Microsoft Teams platform to brainstorm for new ideas and ways to support the veterans’ community virtually to include remote mentoring programs. “Our site liaisons are making a positive impact on veterans and wounded warriors at their local levels with
virtual events and web-based programs,” said Prosise, clarifying that the local community comprises veterans who are government employees and others who are passionate about the veteran and wounded warrior community.
Although NAVSEA sites from the warfare centers to the shipyards run their own V&WW programs at the local level, a community of interest has sprung at the NAVSEA enterprise level in an effort to share knowledge. “The beauty of the enterprise Veteran and Wounded Warrior Community of Interest is the way our community fosters learning while adopting practices and efforts at the discretion of local sites,” said Prosise. “For example, there has been interest from several sites about adopting some aspects of the Dahlgren Veteran Integration which creates efficiencies for NAVSEA and benefits a greater veteran population than just specific to one site.”
Over the last year, the NAVSEA Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program expanded its scope to be enterprise wide, operating more like a program office to coordinate efforts while sharing tools, resources and knowledge among the NAVSEA enterprise, including the warfare centers.
NAVSEA, the Navy’s largest systems command, employs more than 75,000 people at 33 field activities across the country and overseas. There are hundreds of civilian occupations for wounded warriors across the enterprise.
The NAVSEA Warfare Center enterprise comprises the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. With eight Surface Warfare and two Undersea Warfare sites across the United States, the warfare centers supply the technical operations, people, technology, engineering services and products needed to equip and support the fleet and meet the warfighters’ needs.