On Thursday, June 22, OnCentive and Hire Heroes USA came together for their second-annual Salute to Our Heroes event. Why? The local startup and national nonprofit have partnered to empower employers to hire veterans, because re-entry after service to our country isn’t always easy. Keep reading to find out all about the event.
Nothing starts without a job
Attending the event was Romaine Byrd, Georgia Program Coordinator for Hire Heroes USA. In a few short sentences, he summed up the experience so many face when transitioning to civilian life after the military:
“I got out of the military thinking I had everything planned. Little did I know that there were no resources for veterans like myself when I first got out. I’m not even sure how I found out about Hire Heroes. Maybe it was divine intervention. We take someone who has no idea how to actually find employment, take their military transferable skills and put them in a format that we know they can go out and speak comfortably about.”
Shannon Scott, OnCentive’s CEO, summed up the reason for the event best:
“There’s a lot of veterans organizations and nonprofits that give money and financial aid and houses but jobs…nothing starts without a job.”
Find out how your business can save money by hiring veterans.
One veteran’s story
At the event, we met up with Kathy Scarbrough, an Ensley business owner who’s committed to lifting up veterans because she has literally walked in their shoes. In 2010, she left the Navy after 24 years of service.
Still, her heart remains with the military, her fellow veterans who have served our country and her sons who are currently serving.
“The military is where my leadership skills, my drive, my dedication to community and family were developed—those are values that are taught in the military, and values I’d like to see transition into the community. We’re all part of this great big world, and we have a responsibility to each other. The military is really my family and the gist of who I am.
There is so much potential to tap into with veterans—we go to other countries and build schools, help them out and do all kinds of amazing things, including disaster assistance. Every military person I know is multi-skilled because we’re taught to be that way.”Kathy Scarbrough
Transitioning to civilian life
Scarbrough said that transitioning to civilian life was really hard—minimum wage at the time was $3.35.
In addition, after serving in a war, putting her life on the line and receiving an honorable discharge, she experienced what far too many veterans have experienced:
“When you came home, it was like ‘oh, you’re a veteran—we’re gonna throw you away.’”
Fortunately, the military paid for her to get a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UAB, which helped a lot and led to other opportunities.
Starting her own business
10 years ago, after many years in civilian life working in government and the private sector, Scarbrough started Mighty Muscle Facilities Management (MMFM), a full-service facilities management company.
She’s particularly committed to supporting female veterans, who she says are less likely to partake in their benefits than any other group.
One of the ways MMFM does this is by sharing information. Once a year, they host a seminar where they talk about what’s new with the VA, what benefits are available and more.
In October 2022, they helped a young woman access educational benefits she didn’t even know she qualified for, and helped a man increase his disability benefits from $350 to $1900 a month.
Recently, MMFM was accepted into a National Apprenticeship Program through the Alabama Department of Commerce to create a 12-month apprenticeship program for facilities managers.
The goal: get veterans into high-paying jobs that start around $55-70K a year and go up from there.
OnCentive raised $125K for Hire Heroes USA
At the Salute to Our Heroes event, OnCentive presented a check to Hire Heroes USA to support the good work they do helping veterans transition into civilian life.
OnCentive and Hire Heroes USA have partnered to launch an employer education program, enabling companies to understand the benefits of hiring veterans and the financial incentives of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program. This collaboration supports veterans’ transition into civilian jobs while providing employers with resources to appreciate their skills and utilize the WOTC program efficiently.