Maximizing the talents of a veteran workforce

By Tatiana Peralta 01/28/2021
Maximizing the talents of a veteran workforce

When veterans enter the workforce, they come equipped with a unique blend of skills and abilities that make them valuable to any workplace. Due to their time in service, they often have a keen eye for detail, are extremely committed to their jobs, and excel in teamwork. These talents are just some of the reasons why nonprofit agencies within the SourceAmerica® network successfully employ thousands of veterans across the United States.

Washington state is home to Skookum, an organization committed to successfully hiring veterans. In December 2020, the nonprofit received the Hire-A-Vet award for its work supporting and increasing employment opportunities for these individuals. In fact, 1/3 of Skookum’s workforce is comprised of veterans, and more than 300 of their employees are part of the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States.  

Skookum has 26 AbilityOne contracts within multiple military bases across 12 states providing facility and supply chain management, vehicle maintenance, logistics and more. These distinctive positions and their locations on military bases are often a great fit for veterans entering the workforce, giving them a chance to connect and form bonds with officers.

“As a veteran, working for Skookum at the Fort Hood location opened a lot of opportunities. It has given me a diverse, but unique, way of working alongside other veterans,” said Rohan Mitchell, Warehouse Specialist Lead at Fort Hood and a Veteran of the United States Marine Corp. “Working here helped me to adapt back to society and the needs of other veterans while bettering the way I communicate. Skookum has given me the opportunity to work with vendors outside the facility, improving my education and values. They have also given me the knowledge to take what I have learned here and incorporate it to the outside world.” 

At Fort Hood, Sergeant Melody Bowdry works directly with Mitchell. One of Bowdry’s responsibilities is to collect all the Body Armor and Ballistic Plates from every soldier that is returning from deployment. Once all the equipment is collected, she and her staff schedule an appointment with the Fort Hood CIF to turn the equipment into the Warehouse Section. “Rohan Mitchell has been a very critical counterpart in our mission,” said Bowdry. “He will review all of our documents upon arrival to confirm accuracy of the documents and equipment. His quickness and efficiency allowed us to finish our turn-ins in a timely manner. We truly appreciate his patience, accuracy, thoroughness and above all the speed. This allows us to move on to accomplish the many other tasks that we may have that day.”

Based on numerous awards, recognition from customers, and employee achievements, Skookum has seen tremendous success hiring veterans in its workplace.

According to Skookum CEO Jeff Dolven, recruiting these dedicated individuals requires building genuine relationships between the organization and the veteran community. The recruiters at Skookum have solidified relationships with multiple veteran organizations, leading to a diverse set of employee referrals. Once a veteran joins the Skookum team, they become part of a growing network of veterans already employed by the organization. This strategy allows Skookum to remain a strong job connector for this talented workforce in multiple states.

The best advice Skookum can offer organizations looking to employ veterans is to think outside the box. “Veterans are a complex group with a lot of skills,” said Dolven. “They could assume the role of a quality control manager, or even run the entire program. But before they can do that, we have to recognize their full set of skills.”

To learn more about the or how to hire these talented individuals at your organization, email