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Family Matters Blog: Sailor Transitions to Sonar After Navy

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2012 – When First Lady Michelle Obama and her "Joining Forces’" partners talk about service members needing transitioning into commercial work, they’re talking about people like Paul Michael Andrews.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
First Lady Michelle Obama announces a major military employment milestone during a "Joining Forces" event on Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 22, 2012, reporting that more than 2,000 companies have hired 125,000 veterans and spouses through the campaign. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ian W. Anderson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Andrews joined the military young and without a college degree. The Navy sent him to school to be a sonar technician, and he spent most of his six-year military career operating the world’s most sophisticated equipment to detect and track foreign submarines from the USS Roosevelt guided missile destroyer.

Andrews had two deployments: one to Somalia, and another to eastern Afghanistan to serve nine months working intelligence for a provincial reconstruction team.

The former petty officer knew he’d had “some awesome experiences” in the Navy, but when he decided to separate, he said, the thought of a civilian job search was filled with anxiety. Like many of his shipmates, he had never written a resume and didn’t know where to begin.

“We don’t spend time tweaking our resumes and building our professional networks,” he said. “Our network consists of the men and women we serve next to.

“I knew that I had the skills to be successful,” Andrews added. “But I also knew that I couldn’t say that my strengths were finding foreign submarines in the ocean or tracking down the Taliban in Afghanistan. I didn’t think American businesses were looking for those skills, and I couldn’t imagine a job outside the military that would require those skills.”

That’s where Joining Forces and one of its partners, Orion International, came in. Andrews attended a job fair sponsored by the two and quickly garnered Orion’s help for making the transition.

“They clearly got it,” he said of the company’s ability to translate his military experience into a civilian resume. “What they helped me understand is that American businesses do value those skills.”

After some coaching, Orion helped Andrews gain an interview with Sonardyne International. Pretty soon, the Texas native was on his way to Houston for his new job working with sonar.

“I didn’t have to go a single day unemployed,” he said. “So, Joining Forces is real; it has an impact.”

Yesterday, Andrews introduced the first lady to a crowd at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., where she announced that Joining Forces’ had exceeded its goal of helping private industry hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. To date, she said, the program has partnered with 2,000 companies that have hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses. Read more here.


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