Upstate Veteran Business Network: Serving Those Who Served
Friday, April 28th, 2017
Jason Schulz was in the Army for more than 23 years and had three tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. When he retired from the military in 2014 he decided to move to Greenville, S.C. where he quickly found work.
Unfortunately the position was short-lived. Close to 10 months after being hired the company started personnel realignments in preparation for a sale and Jason and several of his coworkers were laid off.
He immediately began a new job search utilizing the tools that were offered to him through the SC Works center. He used those resources to begin networking in the veteran community.
Through this process, Jason learned that, like him, many veterans have barriers to employment, and he wanted to help others having similar issues. In September 2015 he founded the Upstate Veteran Business Network. This group is dedicated to creating a meaningful and lasting network of veterans in the Upstate of South Carolina and to help current veteran-focused organizations improve their services.
Shortly after starting the Upstate Veteran Business Network, Jason met Eric McAbee, a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist with the Spartanburg SC Works center. He was able to educate Jason on the resources available to veterans through the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), specifically Operation Palmetto Employment (OPE). Through a partnership between DEW and the S.C. National Guard, OPE is a resource for veterans to help them find meaningful civilian careers.
He decided to attend an OPE summit, and there he heard about various employers in his area that were certified Palmetto Military Employers (PME), a certification process for employers who actively hire and retain veteran employees. One employer stood out to him the most – Cooper Standard Automotive. At the end of the event they talked about a job fair happening the following day where many of the PMEs would be attending.
He took the opportunity to go to the job fair and made sure that he met with an HR representative from Cooper Standard. He gave them his resume and began talking to them about opportunities within their company. They were looking for someone to fill production positions, a position in which he wasn’t interested, but they told him they were also looking for a Shipping and Receiving Manager, a position that had not yet been posted.
Jason was later hired as the shipping and receiving supervisor and he says that he has enjoyed the veteran friendly atmosphere of the company. He continues to work with the Upstate Veterans Business Network to help connect veterans with valuable employment and to educate them on available opportunities. He says, “The Upstate Veteran Business Network is time well spent and helps highly purpose driven veterans feel like their service to our great nation is valued by the citizens they put their lives on the line to protect.”