HENDERSON, Ky. — A new pipeline of prospective workers has opened up for Kyndle stakeholders in this region: Military personnel who are preparing to leave the nation’s service and enter the civilian workforce.

And resumes are beginning to accumulate.

Kyndle, the lead economic development organization for Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties, has hired a professional recruiting consultant to travel to job fairs at military installations around the country to advertise job openings for its stakeholders.

Already, Larry Wheatley of Owensboro-based Blue Star Consultants reports that he has dozens of resumes from soldiers at Fort Campbell near Hopkinsville who will be mustering out in the coming weeks or months.

He will be accumulating more when he attends career events in May at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, Ill., with more to follow as the U.S. military continues a drawdown of tens of thousands of active and reserve forces.

Kyndle stakeholders in all four counties have signed up for the Kyndle Warriors program, with more expressing interest each week.

Wheatley, who spent 16 years as an Air Force recruiter and has recruited military personnel for the private sector for several years, said each branch of service has skills and trades that can transfer easily to civilian companies.

For example, Taubensee Steel & Wire Co.’s plant in Henderson had a need it couldn’t fill locally: To hire a skilled materials handler. Fortunately, Wheatley had made contact with an Army combat engineer with a background in the steel and aluminum industries who was within days of mustering out of the service. It gave the company a solid lead in its search for the right candidate.

Wheatley said men and women who have served honorably in the nation’s military services and are preparing to return to civilian life bring with them discipline, a work ethic and experience in the military’s wide array of trades, from truck driving or cooking to information technology. The Kyndle Warriors seeks to connect skilled servicemen and servicewomen with similar civilian careers.

“I have candidates (who are preparing to leave the military) and I have companies that are on board,” Wheatley said.

“Nobody out there is doing it this way,” he said.

The initiative is one of the ways Kyndle is working on behalf of stakeholders — along with local job fairs and job postings at the kyndle.us website — to find qualified job candidates.

“As the nation’s economy improves, our companies have specific job needs, and skilled military veterans looking for civilian careers can help fill them,” interim Kyndle President Donna Crooks said.

Many of the military installations Wheatley is visiting specialize in skills that are readily transferred to civilian companies or have programs to prepare personnel for post-military careers.

For example, Fort Campbell offers Army truck drivers a 30-day course under the G.I. Bill through which they can earn their Commercial Drivers License and drive for companies.

That same installation has also partnered with Nashville State Community College to offer a certification program in mechatronics — a blend of computer technologies, electronics and mechanics.

Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, meanwhile, trains soldiers in operating heavy construction equipment.

With his military experience, Wheatley can also serve as a sort of translator, explaining military occupational specialty codes and their significance to companies. An 88Mike, for example, is a truck driver.

He noted that an 11Bravo — an infantryman — brings more than weapons qualification. They have learned attention to detail (such as being able to reassemble their weapon while blindfolded) as well as decision-making skills and a focus on safety, which Wheatley said “is a lifestyle” in the military.

Military personnel, he said, “show up on time, work overtime and are mission-oriented.”

Just weeks into the program, Wheatley said he already has dozens of job resumes in hand, and is asking Kyndle stakeholders to contact him with other upcoming job openings. One manufacturer here said it will provide him with 40 job descriptions.

“The more job descriptions I have, the more I can post,” he said. “If you’ve got a job you know you’re going to post in the next year, I want to get it out there.”

Under the Kyndle Warriors program, there is no cost for a Kyndle stakeholder to be represented by Wheatley at military career fairs. If a veteran is successfully placed in a job, the company will pay Blue Star a one-time fee of $250 for each hourly position filled and $500 for each salaried position, which is a deep discount to normal talent placement fees.

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