Military Retirees Forced to Enlist in Second Career

By Kopecki, Dawn | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Military Retirees Forced to Enlist in Second Career


Kopecki, Dawn, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


At age 48, Jim White found himself out of a job after more than two decades with the same employer.

"Not only had I spent 26 years in the military, but I went to West Point for four years before," Mr. White said. "Essentially, the only thing I had ever known was the military."

Mr. White, who retired as an Army colonel in 1992, is among thousands of U.S. military people every year who face not just the end of a career, but a way of life.

With about 90,000 retired personnel, the D.C. area has the fifth-highest total of military retirees in the nation, according to Department of Defense estimates. California is first with more than 200,000.

On any day, at least 10,000 retired officers are looking for a job, according to the Retired Officers Association, which matches retired military officers with prospective employers. For those like Mr. White, it's their first job search in corporate America.

"They have great time-management skills. Most are good leaders. They're producers. They have proven loyalty and proven productivity," said Peter McCarthy, the president of Alexandria McCarthy & Co., a job-placement firm.

Retired military people are most in demand in the fields of environmental resource management, technology, transportation and security, Mr. McCarthy said. But they also find work in finance, education and law.

Although defense contractors have cut back as federal demand has decreased, veterans are among the most attractive candidates when they do hire.

Mr. White's experience in high-tech computer and communications systems put him in a good position to become a senior communications engineer with McLean software firm SAIC, which works closely with the Defense Department.

Retired Air Force Col. Don Carty has hired about 200 retired military personnel, 10 percent to 20 percent of his hiring, in recent years as a human resources consultant for McLean-based defense contractor BDM International.

"What it really gives you is a source of people who have many years of experience in what you're looking for," Mr. Carty said. "We're working with the Air Force on many of these contracts, and it helps to have people who know the Air Force."

Mr. Carty seeks out veterans through military associations, job fairs, and advertisements in the Air Force Times and other military publications. He also uses the Retired Officers Association resume database.

Many retired veterans end up in Washington after being promoted through the ranks.

Bob Acres, a retired lieutenant colonel, was assigned to the Pentagon after serving at the Air Force Space Command Center in Colorado Springs and the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk.

"If you haven't been to a Pentagon assignment by then [after 15 or 20 years], you're very due," said Mr. …

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