In honor of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, we would like to introduce you to Jessica Collins, the first winner of the SHRM Foundation Annual Conference & Exposition Veteran Scholarship. Jessica’s story is one of unbelievable timing and a challenging transition.
The SHRM Foundation recognizes that there are many workplace issues that HR professionals are uniquely able to address because of their skill set—one of which is integrating and retaining military veteran employees in the workforce. In 2017 and 2018, the SHRM Foundation will take on this important issue by providing scholarships, solutions for the workplace and tools for making an impact in your local community for addressing veteran employment.
Join us every Tuesday through the end of the year for a new #TransformTues story.
I arrived to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois on September 10, 2001.
That night, I went to sleep anxious to begin my first day of boot camp. The following morning unimaginable events happened on U.S. soil, and because I was in a secluded environment I did not understand the magnitude of those events until completion of boot camp, almost nine weeks later.
My 11-year military career shaped me into the person I am today. After I received training as a Naval Cryptologist, I was stationed in Aurora, Colorado where I specialized in overhead satellite systems. In May of 2004, I set sail for my first deployment in the Eastern Pacific, and I saw and did so many different things.
My next deployment was my most challenging and also my longest deployment. It was January 2007, and I was 23 years old heading off to fight the war against terrorism for eight months. That deployment had a lasting effect on me, and I looked at the world differently. From there, I was stationed in San Diego and then last duty station was on a missile-guided destroyer.
Although I prepared for my transition to becoming a civilian, there were things that I could not plan for. Even though I possessed life experience and had transferable skills, I did not know how to integrate myself into the civilian world. To remedy this, I signed up for college, and became very active in my community speaking with veterans that have recently transitioned out of the military.
Once I decided human resources was the career I wanted to pursue, I made a "to-do" list of events I wanted to attend, people I wanted to meet, and goals I wanted to achieve. The SHRM Annual Conference was high on my list, and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. The SHRM Foundation made it possible! Thank you.
For more on Jessica’s experience in the military and her experience at #SHRM16 view the video below. Scholarships like Jessica’s are only possible because of gifts from individuals. Help transform the lives of HR leaders by making a donation to the SHRM Foundation at shrmfoundation.org/donate.