Navy Veteran Wins First Veteran Advocates Award

This past July, RecruitMilitary launched a social media ambassador program called RecruitMilitary Veteran Advocates. By mid-October, the program had gained over 3,400 advocates – who shared content to a network reach of more than 2 million people! The purpose? To encourage engagement, to share opportunities, and, ultimately, to help veterans find jobs. How does it work? Three times a week, RecruitMilitary sends the advocates an email with a post that they can share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other sites. Advocates do not need to be veterans. What are the posts? Currently, they highlight our upcoming all-veteran job fairs throughout the country. In the future, we will expand the content to include articles and videos with advice for job-seeking veterans. **WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN?** * If you want to help veterans find jobs, but do not know how to get involved, this program is for you. * If you want to participate in something worthwhile, but you do not have much time to spare, this program is for you. * If you are looking for opportunities for yourself and your fellow veterans, this program is for you. **BADGES AND POINTS** As an added incentive, the program rewards advocates’ progress with badges and points. An advocate earns badges as he or she reaches milestones such as receiving a certain amount of “likes” for a post. The badges show up at the bottom of the advocate’s personal homepage. An advocate can earn points in multiple ways, including sharing posts, recruiting new advocates, and using certain hashtags. For every 100 points an advocate earns, he or she gets one entry into a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card. **THE FIRST WINNER** I was pleased to interview the first ever Veteran Advocate winner, Julia Jones, a veteran of the United States Navy and Navy Reserve. She served for a total of 30 years between the two, retiring in 2014 as a lieutenant commander (04). She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Edd Jones, who served in the Navy and the Navy Reserve for a total of 24 years. Of their four adult children, one served in the Air Force and one served in the Army. Julia and Edd’s daughter, Ashley, and her two sons Garrett, 8, and Aiden, 6, reside in Indianapolis with them. Julia grew up in Union, Maine, a tiny town east of Augusta. She joined the Navy as a way to see more of the world. “I just wanted to get out of town,” she told me. “I felt like there wasn’t much opportunity. Joining the Navy seemed like the right thing to do. The funny thing is, now I want to get back to that little town in Maine.” In some ways, Julia found that being in the military was similar to her small-town life. “Everyone looks out for each other,” she said. “My hometown and the service both bring this feeling of closeness with others. They both create bonds because of shared experiences.” She enlisted in the Navy in 1984, attained a rating of boatswain’s mate, and worked her way up to the rate of chief petty officer (E7) before becoming a commissioned officer. Her Navy career took her all over the United States. She was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina; Williamsburg and Norfolk, Virginia; Monterey, California; Pensacola, Florida; and Wilmington, North Carolina. She met her husband during a mission to Turkey in 1998. “We were in line, alphabetically, in customs. Both of our last names were Jones. But we started talking and it all went from there,” Julia said. “He had me at hello.” In 1999, she became a recruiter, a job that she loved. “I would say recruiting has pretty much shaped who I am,” she told me. “I found that it is very fulfilling to help people reach their goals. Being a recruiter is all about relationships.” **HELPING OTHERS** Her dedication to her family extends to her military family as well. “If I can help someone else succeed, if I see someone have the opportunity to find that perfect job – I feel successful. It’s what I loved doing in the Navy, and I love doing it now. I’m thankful to have the chance to assist RecruitMilitary in their efforts to help people looking for jobs find jobs.” Julia is passionate about building relationships and helping others. She has found that social media is a good tool to do both. “When I see notifications that RecruitMilitary is having a job fair, I share it on my social media platforms,” she said, “because even if my immediate network doesn’t need the help right then, if they share it, the message might be reaching someone who does need that help. “I think it can be hard for military veterans to ask for help finding a job. They are subject-matter experts in their fields, and going out into the civilian workforce is completely different animal. So if I can help someone find opportunities through my posts, that alone is rewarding to me.” **MILESTONES** One of the best days in her Navy career was the day she made chief petty officer. “I felt like I finally made it,” she said. “That was a huge milestone.” Another memorable moment was her retirement ceremony. “That was a monumental day. I was blown away by the people who came to my ceremony. It was one of those things where you get to really see all of the lives you’ve touched. That they cared enough to be there was incredibly affirming.” Her transition was “challenging.” While in the middle of her job hunt, her husband broke his leg and was bedridden for two months. Julia had to put all of her job hunting on hold. “It took me down a completely different trajectory than I had anticipated.” She used the time to research and create her own business, Anchor Roasting, a coffee-bean roasting business. The idea to roast coffee came from the desire that she and her husband shared to open their own café one day. That may not have happened, but she met someone who ran a café and roasted their own coffee. She investigated coffee roasting a bit more and realized that it was something she wanted to do. “My husband supported me one hundred percent,” she said. Company growth has not been as fast as she’d hoped. “Anchor Roasting is still small,” she said. “However, this allows me to roast on-demand and provide extremely fresh coffee. And though most of my customers are people I know, we do have a website and can send to anyone.” Julia credits the Navy with teaching her the skills she needs every day in her civilian job. “In my job, I have to be self-motivated. I need the work ethic, integrity, and timeliness that the Navy instilled in me. No one is pushing me to do what needs to be done. I have to push myself. But everything I do is for my family.” Her business savvy was, in part, learned from a program offered by her transition assistance program, called Boots to Business. “I took a 2-day course and an 8-week course,” she explained. “They were able to fill in a lot of gaps. You don’t know what you don’t know until you’re doing it.” The program is offered through a partnership between Syracuse University and the Navy. **ADVICE FOR JOB SEEKERS** Julia advises those about to separate from the military to use their experience as a springboard to their civilian careers. But she has a word of caution: “It’s a good foundation to build on, but don’t constantly be looking backward. You have to use the skills, knowledge, and abilities to move forward. And you have to let go of some things. But hold onto that work ethic.” She also recommends that transitioning veterans stay patient and open-minded in the job search. “Some people get a job right away,” she told me, “but the reality is that most people don’t. To better your chances of success, you need to be willing to look at different fields. The sky is the limit.” **HOW TO BECOME AN ADVOCATE** Simply click [here]( and fill out a profile. You will get a welcome email immediately, and within a couple of days, you will begin receiving the shareable content. *Elizabeth Stetler is the editor of Search & Employ® and a veteran of the United States Army. Contact her at*