News & Events

AZ vets brings statewide resources
July 5, 2022
July 5, 2022

Bringing hiring resources to military veterans

In the U.S. military, servicemembers learn to be leaders and problem solvers. The discipline and work ethic it takes to embody a “service before self” attitude makes veterans an invaluable asset to the workforce. Yet unemployment continues to be a concern for veterans: The unemployment rate for veterans in Arizona is about 4%.

The AZ Hires Vets! initiative launched in January 2021 with the goal to double the percentage of veterans who make up the state’s workforce by 2025. Currently, the state of Arizona employs approximately 3,200 veterans, who make up about 7% of the state workforce. 

The effort has been a collaboration between the Departments of Administration and Veterans’ Services, the Office of the Governor, Be Connected and the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.

“It’s an ambitious goal,” said George McNeely, chief human resources officer, Arizona Department of Administration, who is leading the AZ Hires Vets! initiative. 

AZ Hires Vets! has already hosted multiple virtual and in-person hiring events in Phoenix and Tucson featuring 30 agencies and serving 743 candidates with resume reviews, on-site interviews, skills tests and the ability to secure contingent employment offers. Upcoming events can be found on the AZ Hires Vets! event calendar.

“One of the highlights of the hiring events is the energy there, having the agencies together with candidates, able to walk around and talk to different agencies, check out what jobs are available to them and just make contacts. Having that warm handshake and getting a feel for the work and the culture,” McNeely said. 

Structured problem solving and standard work are critical Arizona Management System elements that have helped coordinate this initiative so far, as well as track results. 

As a Marine Corps veteran himself, McNeely said there are many reasons why veterans should consider the thousands of job opportunities within the state of Arizona. A state pension, tuition reimbursement, comprehensive health care for families and time off for civic and military commitments appeal to many job candidates. But the state also offers something that appeals to many servicemembers and veterans: an opportunity to continue to serve. 

U.S. Navy veteran Laura Bryan said that state service is like a second home to her and encourages other servicemembers and veterans to consider state employment.

“I think that you would feel at home if you try working for the state because of the structure, the discipline, the preparedness of the state. The way it functions … the way you can grow into the company. It just feels the same,” Bryan said.

In her career with the state, Bryan has licensed hospitals and doctors with the Arizona Medical Board. In every role, she said she had a strong sense of service because her work protects people who need medical care. 

“It really matters to people’s overall mental and physical health,” she said. 

U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Corporal Javier Ramirez has worked at the Arizona Department of Transportation for more than 20 years and feels his career has allowed him to contribute to public safety, from keeping freeways safe to licensing drivers.

“We do many things that affect a lot of people every day. So I get that feeling that I’ve made a change to the state in my career,” said Ramirez.

Now a continuous improvement program manager, Ramirez also said that his career at the state allowed him the flexibility to advance.

“The job possibilities in the state of Arizona are unlimited, I believe. I started out as an entry-level customer service rep at the Motor Vehicle Division and I was able to learn, to grow and to move,” he said. “You do have a sense of control over your own career here … there’s always an opportunity to make improvements to yourself, to your career and to your state.”

The state of Arizona is committed to being a supportive employer for the men and women who served in the military. More than half a million service members, veterans and their families call Arizona home, and the state workforce needs the valuable skills and training that veterans bring to the table.