When Target nominated team member and military veteran Marvin Hamilton to help deployed U.S. service men and women, he felt it was his duty to answer the call.

Hamilton, a Target Distribution senior group director, was one of nine Minnesotans recently chosen to visit the troops at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. It’s part of the Minnesota National Guard’s new initiative, Employment Resources Training, which helps troops prepare for employment upon return to the United States. According to a recent survey, an estimated 19 percent of the 2,700 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team will be unemployed and looking for new jobs when they arrive home later in 2012. That means—ready or not—job applications and interviews are in their near future.

“As a deployed soldier isolated from the workforce for a long time, your business skills get rusty,” Hamilton says. “At the base, networking isn’t a focus, and interviewing doesn’t exist. You don’t get much experience talking about your skills or presenting things in person. So a little help to learn or re-learn those skills goes a long way.”

Before leaving, Hamilton and the eight other representatives (including colleagues from U.S. Bank and Best Buy) created a training filled with helpful information about job application and interviewing for the soldiers. Along the way, he worked with other Target teams to find tangible resources—such as sample résumés and interview questions—for the group to use as teaching tools.

After weathering a lengthy flight and navigating several security checkpoints, Hamilton and his team reached the camp in Kuwait and settled in for a week of hands-on training with the troops. While bunking onsite, he taught classes each day from 6:40 a.m. to 10 p.m. on everything from preparing a résumé to answering practice interview questions.

“The real key was showing how a military skill set can translate to the business world,” Hamilton remembers. “There are lots of similarities in structure and the way you lead your teams. For example, when I started as a supervisor at Target’s distribution center (DC) in Woodland, Calif., I thought of my DC as a battalion and the managers as company commanders. I actually broke out my team members into what I called my ‘Alpha,’ ‘Bravo’ and ‘Charlie’ teams. They enjoyed that, I think.” Seeing their skills in this new light helped soldiers in classes begin to realize how they might apply to jobs back home.

At the end of the trip, Hamilton presented troops with a special thank-you banner signed by hundreds of Target team members (pictured above), and he looks forward to continuing the work. “Team members can play a strong role in helping returning service men and women prepare to fulfill their dreams,” Hamilton says. “I know we made a big difference already, and just by applying skills we use every day.”

Find more stories about how Target supports the military, veterans, and their friends and families in our Discover section.

TAGS: corporate responsibility , military , team members , veterans

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