By Tom Moore, CEO and Co-founder of WithYouWithMe

The growing awareness of PTSD and a Federal government initiative to target mental health issues in the Veteran Community was welcomed this week. But of greater note was the announcement of the “Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Initiative”. The idea of linking industry to transitioning personnel is a massive step in the right direction for industry perception and mental health of the Veteran Community. The next step forward is identifying a step and platform of presenting transferrable career pathways to industry to make the process smooth and bring the power of ADF personnel to industry in an efficient and positive way.

To shed some light on the transition issue, the Australian Army alone has had 10-12% turnover of its personnel between 2003-2015. Over that time period that is over 30,000 personnel which have left the ADF. The main forms of separation are Resignation (60%) and Medical Separation (18%). The average time of military service is seven and half years.  Therefore, the majority of those transitioning are resigning after seven and half years. The transition support for personnel in this category is a two day transition seminar and five days to conduct work experience. For a major career shift and life change, the support is minimal.

I have also identified the following general issues; Military members have extreme difficulty in identifying civilian career pathways which results in increased depression and; Finally, the majority of industry human resource practitioners are uneducated to the benefits of hiring a service member. WithYouWithMe aims to resolve those three issues and also supplement the current transition process for all.

WithYouWithMe is a tech-startup which is an online mentoring social network for people who are transitioning from the Defence Force. After eight years in the Australian Defence Force as an infantry reservist soldier and regular infantry Officer including a tour of Afghanistan, I was discharged due to a number of injuries sustained. After struggling to find employment due to the perception of the military in industry I adjusted my approach to networking/mentoring for professional entry rather than focusing on normal job hunting strategies to develop my skill set. I found this very successful and after 12 months researching industry I developed the foundations to develop the WithYouWithMe software product for online trial whilst also successfully transitioning into the digital marketing industry.

The vision of WithYouWithMe is to change the perception of hiring Defence Force personnel from a ‘helping hand’ approach, to one of valued, skilled individuals which businesses should be fighting over to employ. The Prime Minister’s comments last week resonated a lot with us at WithYouWithMe and are step forward in the right direction. At the core of the company is mentor match-making services, which involves linking up ex-defence force personnel and industry members who have been successful in industry with those transitioning to share skills and knowledge.

The product is a free online social network which a “service member” joins, conducts an online WithYouWithMe Job-fit assessment (which takes into account military experience and industry personality profile), identifies a transferrable industry pathway and selects industry mentors to develop the skills required for the role and develop entry competitiveness prior to transition. This has included developing a skills mapping model which shows your transferrable skills by industry pathway based off your military position and rank to translate military training/experience to industry skills and occupations. The online model is self-funded and is half-way through development and should be completed in November.

As we approach the prospective launch date, we will be conducting events focused on the model introduction for Mentees and Mentors. We will also be running free Pathway Skills Seminars to work the “Desired Skills” by industry so people can “upskill” or “develop” prior to transition.

I believe to deal with the social problem of transition depression we must present service-members to industry in a positive light by identifying a clear industry transition pathway and engaging industry through mentors to share knowledge and exposure to increase successful job placement. Foremost, we need to help people to identify a new purpose.

If you would like to know more, become involved as mentee and/or mentor, we are currently registering people for interest on our website as we approach the software release. Alternatively, please feel free to reach out to me a for chat. If you are looking to follow an education pathway Australian Student Veterans Association is another movement to watch which is focusing on the positive attributes of Veteran students in tertiary study.

Think forward and think positive!