Five Questions With Kasim J. Yarn

PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

Kasim J. Yarn | Director, R.I. Office of Veterans Affairs


1. What are the greatest challenges today facing veterans in search of employment? One of the greatest challenges veterans face is explaining how their military skills translate to the civilian workforce. They often have the skills required but need help on how to translate those skills to a business environment. Yes, some veterans have some physical and mental health challenges, but these men and women are disciplined, hardworking, team-focused and resilient. Investing in their success is good business for Rhode Island.

2. What is the R.I. Office of Veterans Affairs doing to help overcome these challenges? Gov. Gina M. Raimondo sent a strong message on her commitment to veterans when she decided to appoint the state’s first director of veterans affairs. Since taking the position, I’ve worked … to identify opportunities for resume coaching, apprenticeships and jobs. And through our Veterans Resource Center, we leverage partnerships to help the veterans we serve. The most important thing for veterans to know is that there are resources available for them.

3. How about other state and federal agencies? State agencies have worked with employers to be responsive to their needs to create meaningful pathways to employment. For example, the Department of Labor and Training has a robust Veteran Service Unit that not only provides career counseling and job-placement services but works with the business community to learn about their workforce needs, so veterans are better positioned for today’s workforce needs. As for our federal partners, they provide funding for DLT’s program, in addition to working on employment and training for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

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4. How would you characterize those efforts? Are they working? Without a doubt. Currently, DLT has the largest veteran talent pool in the state for recruiting top military and veteran applicants. … This effort has produced … more than 450 job placements.

5. What advice could you give employers who might have misinformed stereotypes or concerns about hiring veterans? Military service cannot be summarized on one page. The skills, experiences and leadership these men and women possess cannot be taught in a classroom but every potential employer can benefit from them. We ask they at least give veterans an opportunity to interview with them to fully understand their skills, abilities and experiences.