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How An Arizona Veteran’s Job Search Led To A National Summit

A Gulf War veteran who once faced career challenges is working to make it easier for other veterans to transition into civilian life.

When Operation Desert Storm veteran Alan Powell left the Army in 1991, he applied to be a police officer, state trooper and firefighter. But he faced hiring freezes and few opportunities designed for veterans.

“I guess the country wasn’t in such a patriotic mood as it is today,” he said.

Powell has added to the patriotic mood by creating the  HeroZona Foundationwhich organizes a free veteran summit. The group’s third annual summit will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel at Dunlap and the Interstate 17 in Phoenix.

Tuesday’s session will focus on mental health and Wednesday’s panel discussions will address student veterans, military spouse employment and leveraging public-private partnerships. The  HeroZona National Veteran Summit ends Thursday with a career fair and hiring expo at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix.

“We actually make sure the employers try to give these veterans these positions beyond entry level positions because we want them to give them credit for their military service,” Powell said.

He said there are online tools to help veterans and employers translate military skills into civilian terms and software that can compile a list of skills based on a military title.

“Some of the skills I learned in the military transferred into me being able to work with people, being able to have a lot of respect for people and making me to catch on and learn things because when you’re in the military you have to adapt and overcome, so as a soldier, sometimes you may go in with one idea and them mission changes.” Powell said. “So being able to use those same skills you used in the military, you can apply those same skills in corporate America.”

Thursday’s free career fair is open to active duty military, Guard and Reserve, veterans, military spouses and caregivers. Those who  register in advance are eligible for up to two free tickets to the Phoenix Suns game against the Miami Heat on Nov. 7, 2019. Tickets are limited.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Arizona had 507,706 veterans in 2017, which equaled ten percent of the state’s population.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.