For Central Oregon Veterans, finding a job is usually the first step to getting settled in the local community. Whether you are looking for a job prior to moving to the Bend area, preparing to move or return to Bend while transitioning from Active Duty, changing jobs after living here for a bit, or pursuing a new career option located in Central Oregon, finding quality job search assistance is important.

As a military Veteran, you have several advantages that increase your likelihood of being hired, and surprisingly, several disadvantages that might count against you. Working with an employment service that truly understands your strengths as a Veteran is an important part of getting connected with Central Oregon employers looking to hire Vets.

COVO partners with Veteran specific Employment and Education Counseling Service

COVO is proud to announce that we are partnering with a pilot program here in Oregon to provide career counseling and employment placement services for not just active military and Veterans, but also their family members.

In 2017 Joint Technological Solutions (JTS) was awarded the contract to manage the Service Member and Family Employment  Education Program (SMFEEP). The Oregon National Guard program exists to “…increase career opportunities for Military Personnel, Veterans and Family Members” with a goal of obtaining “…stable careers, family life and optimal retention”. Among other things, the SMFEEP counselors work to:

  • Provide assistance to Veterans and their families, with both employment and education needs
  • Identify employers and provide them with qualified applicants
  • Work with educational institutions in developing programs that award credit for military experience and training

What does this mean to the Veteran?

For our Veterans, this means you have a partner in your corner. Refreshingly, SMFEEP has a minimum of bureaucratic red tape, meaning more time to focus on building relationships with employers and getting you the correct career placement. With a combination of one-on-one counseling, resume writing, interview rehearsals and a vast network of resources, the SMFEEP counselor gets you focused on your job search and can make personal referrals to companies that are hiring today. 

Who is our local Veteran and military family member employment counselor?

Retired Army Master Sergeant Alex Larson is our Regional Employment and Education specialist here for Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras, and Klamath Falls. Alex is a retired Special Forces Senior Sergeant with 25 years of service. He brings years of corporate experience as a business owner, Risk Management Consultant, and as a Director for one of the largest medical centers in Los Angeles.

What is the education aspect of SMFEEP?

Assistance is offered for Admissions, referral to University Veteran’s Support Staff, GI Bill advisement, tuition and scholarship information, and for eligible candidates, referral to ROTC Cadre for potential careers as a Commissioned Officer in the Active or Reserve components. Advice is given regarding life, work, and education balance to achieve desired outcomes.

How does the SMFEEP program work with employers?

The JTS staff focuses on building and growing relationships with local Oregon employers – and in our case, Central Oregon specifically – who want to hire Veterans and/or military family members. They also work to educate employers on facts about working with Veterans. Some of the skill areas that are common to Vets is dependability, ability to adapt, commitment to the common good and a mindset of service before self. 

Dispelling Myths

Dispelling myths about Veteran job hunters is another thing our SMFEEP counselors do. For example, some employers might think a Veteran would be “rigid” after serving in the military, so SMFEEP counselors help explain that rigid actually translates to “accurate follow through according to existing standards”. For a job requiring a high degree of technicality and strict adherence to a process, what an employer might initially deem as a negative – through inaccurate word branding – is now understood as a positive.

An employer might wonder if a military spouse can be counted on during spousal deployment, but after giving the employer a more complete picture of the family life while a military member is deployed, the company can come to recognize that many military spouses have a strong support system within the military community, and their concerns of reliability are assuaged.

Employers who haven’t worked with military members often believe the popular media portrayal of veterans as “only able to take orders”. By helping the employer understand the military focus on leadership traits and principles, they discover a more accurate picture of active military and Veterans as able to focus on the end result of the mission, and a commitment to the team and accomplishing the desired result. The phrase “Improvise, Adapt & Overcome” is not merely a string of words, but a desirable trait, often found in active military and Veterans, as well as their adaptable family members.

How can I get connected with SMFEEP?

If you are a military member, Veteran or military spouse, COVO is partnering with our Regional Counselor Alex Larson here at COVO on Wednesday afternoons after 2 PM. Because of the hyper-focused nature of the services offered, appointments are preferred, but Alex is available on a walk-in basis those days to make the initial connection, and if time allows, start putting in place the pathway to your next job. Bring your resume if you have one, and Alex will work with on your plan to achieve your education and employment goals! This is a free service, so take advantage of Alex’s tremendous expertise and get moving towards your dreams!