Jim Gormley came home from a deployment to Afghanistan to an uncertain future and little prospect of finding a job that paid what he had grown used to making as an active-duty soldier in a combat zone.
Gormley, of Oklahoma City, was one of about 3,000 soldiers who came back from the deployment. A third of the soldiers who deployed with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were unemployed when the unit returned this spring. That number is down to 22 percent, thanks to companies like Devon Energy Corp. that have both hired returning soldiers and helped train them to navigate the job market.
Devon hired Gormley as a contractor in its environment health and safety department. The job meshed well with his military experience, but finding it wasn't an easy task.
“I was thinking with my background, ideally I could find something in the oil and gas industry,” Gormley said. “I probably applied for 50 different jobs. It was like sending resumes into a black hole.”
Luckily the Guard had a program to help. Gormley went to Warren Griffis at the Guard's employment coordination program. Griffis and his staff help soldiers with their resumes and interviewing skills and can put them in touch with recruiters. Gormley said he just wanted to make sure his resume got in the right hands.
The right hands belonged to Marjorie Cobb, in the human resources group at Devon. She got him on as a contractor at Devon. Cobb said she's worked with the Guard's employment program since taking a trip to Fort Chafee, Ark., to watch members of the 45th train for their Afghanistan deployment. She said Guard soldiers bring skills that can translate well to the energy sector.
“I personally have placed three people in the past month and a half,” Cobb said. “It's kind of on a case-by-case basis to find something they are interested in where they have the skills.”
Adam Ward also works as a recruiter at Devon and is a member of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He has worked to find jobs for soldiers, but also to help Griffis with his mission to make them more employable in any field.
It's difficult, but you just have to hang in there and take advantage of every resource that is available for you.”