The HR Florida State Council and its chapters continually explore different ways to implement effective workforce readiness initiatives in our communities. Because HR Florida partners with the Department of Defense, members were recently invited to Shadow Day for the Army Reserve’s 841st Engineer Battalion’s weekend field training exercise. On an overcast, breezy Saturday on April 2nd at the US Air Force Bombing Range near Avon Park, Florida, HR Tampa members experienced being a soldier for the day. Their missions included conducting unit movement operations and route clearance patrols, making road improvements with heavy equipment, and earning M16 weapon qualification.
The day began for the HR Tampa visitors with a warm welcome from Peter Caspari, Florida ESGR Employer Outreach Director, followed by a briefing given by the Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bell and his staff in the tactical operations center. Also present was bomb range commander, Lieutenant Colonel Beeker, who gave a briefing on the Air Force’s mission at the range. Afterwards, the group was split into two person teams, assigned an escort, and driven in armored Humvees to units in the field.
Throughout the day, each participant interacted with soldiers and learned about their Military Occupational Specialty and how those skills equate to civilian jobs. It was interesting to discover that many of these soldiers perform the same type of work in their civilian employment as they do in the Army Reserve.
Chapter members were partnered with a soldier firing coach on the M16 Range. Outfitted with Kevlar helmets, safety glasses and hearing protection, each HR professional, along with their coach, assumed the prone position to fire thirty rounds down range at a twenty-five meter target. Once the firing ceased and the range was safely cleared, bragging rights were quickly determined by the chapter member scoring the most hits. Chapter members were served a gourmet meal in the field: a nutritious and surprising delicious Meal Ready to Eat.
Krista Ellerman, talent consultant of Konexus Group, says the experience gave her a greater appreciation and understanding of military members and she would now be able to better serve veterans entering the civilian workforce. “Attending the U.S. Army Shadow Day as a civilian with no military ties was an enlightening opportunity to see firsthand how many valuable skills are acquired by each of those serving,” says Ellerman. “As a talent acquisition professional in the civilian world, I am now more knowledgeable in how these military skill sets can be translated to careers outside the military.”
Bernie Currie, an Air Force Veteran and HR Tampa Diversity Director, says the Shadow Day provided an opportunity for civilians to learn more about the military community. Currie said that HR integrated events like Shadow Day “reduce the increasing frustrations that arise during a soldier’s transition to civilian employment.”
Tim Lambert, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is the Director of Workforce Readiness for HR Florida.