The Military-to-Civilian Transition Workshop held on Monday at Heli-Expo 2018 welcomed military pilot and technician veterans and active duty personnel. The workshop’s mission was to ease veterans navigation between a structured military environment and the civilian job market.
Among the participants were 50 volunteer mentors, rotor transition program recruiters, and personnel from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which has 65 air-interdiction agent openings. Prospective pilots can apply to the CBP (Booth C3242) with 750 hours of military flight time, and then at 1,000 hours attend a structured interview.
“You’re still serving your country and keeping our border secure,” said Sean Driscoll, a CBP interdiction agent and military veteran. “A lot of people transitioning find they can still be out there making a difference.”
GoJet Airlines, a regional carrier for Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, offers helicopter pilots $26,000 to help them meet the minimum flight-hour requirements. This provides the opportunity for military helicopter pilots to train for a career in commercial aviation.
After 26 years of service, David Smith, a workshop attendee and Air Force helicopter pilot, was researching how to transition to the civilian world. His goal is to apply for an emergency medical services job. “There’s one thing to do research online and have one or two contacts, but here you can drastically increase the amount of information you have,” said Smith.
“Largely it is the great unknown, for people like us that have been in the military for a majority of our lives," he continued. "Learning what it is like, what the resume is, and what employers are looking for. We only have one opportunity for our original transition. We are trying to get as much information as we can to prepare.”
Finding a purpose beyond military life and working to adapt to a less mission-driven platform is new groundwork for most veterans. Customer service skills and a different style of a more civilian personable approach is also a sought-after atttribute that veterans develop during the transition process.
“It is not about your skills and qualifications—that’s a given,” said Stacy Sheard, who is a member of the HAI board of directors, as well as an Executive Jet Management corporate helicopter captain and a military career mentor.