ATLANTA, Oct. 6, 2014 – The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently met with representatives of veterans service organizations, business and community leaders, and government officials here with an eye toward better serving the nation’s veterans.
“The greater Atlanta area is passionate about taking care of their 800,000 veterans,” Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia said of the Sept. 30 visit, “so I wanted to see how well their veteran employment and long-term health care programs are taking care of that veteran community. I also wanted to advocate for and talk about the Transition GPS program with the veterans service organizations and military service organizations.”
Sharing organizations’ and veterans’ concerns
“The organizations had a chance to share their concerns and to get some feedback from him on how to better take care of our veterans and find out what his concerns are and what we can do better and smarter,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Greene, senior enlisted leader for the Georgia National Guard. “They were also able to share some of their concerns that they have received from the veterans they deal with every day and push it to him, knowing it’s going to get to the very top.”
One of the main topics of discussion was the Veterans Affairs Department’s eBenefits website, a central location for veterans, service members and their families to research, find, access and manage their benefits and personal information.
“This was an eye-opener today,” said Lou Battaglia, an active member of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association and host of the event. “I feel a lot of the veterans service organizations didn’t know about the services offered on the eBenefits website until the [sergeant major] talked about them today. Now that the VSO representatives know what’s available, they’ll implement them within their own service organizations to help veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.”
Linking veterans to available jobs
Following the roundtable, the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce organized a social that brought together a group of Fortune 500 companies and the rest of the representatives to discuss what the companies are looking for in hiring new employees and how best to link them into the community of veterans looking for jobs.
“They really expressed a desire to hire veterans because of their unique skill sets they bring to the workforce,” Sergeant Major Battaglia said. “Now, we need to learn how to better educate [service organizations] and these companies on the tools and resources available to connect veterans with prospective employers.
“We do a good job within the Department of Defense,” he added, “but we still have a way to go to spread the word thoughout communities like this.”