Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Helping hands

The Veterans Employee Resource Group recruits former military and supports them as they navigate their Laboratory careers.
April 20, 2020
VERG

Members of the VERG celebrate the Air Force’s 72nd birthday in September 2019. Associate Laboratory Director and Air Force Colonel (retired) Mike Hazen was the keynote speaker for the event.CREDIT: Los Alamos National Laboratory

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“As a Los Alamos employee, you are contributing to something greater than any one person.”- Ben Bateman

By Sierra Sweeney

Retired Army Captain and Special Forces Officer Ben Bateman says a key part of being in the military is giving and receiving support. “I’m here in front of you today because of the help I asked for and received from others during my nearly nine years of service,” he says. “In the military, you are always part of a team.” This support system can be difficult to find outside of the military, which is why it’s sometimes hard for veterans to transition into jobs after their service. It’s also why the Lab established its Veterans Employee Resource Group (VERG).

VERG recruits veterans to work at the Lab and connects them with mentors through its Veteran’s Mentoring Program. “We work with veterans and their families to help them adjust so they can hopefully find a place at the Lab,” says Bateman, who is now a Laboratory project manager and the current chair of VERG. “When you arrive at the Lab, you have a position, but where do you fit in? That’s what we help former military members discover.”

VERG also educates and empowers veterans through lectures, military birthday celebrations, and 9/11 and veterans memorial events. In June 2019, for example, Army veteran Josh Mantz visited the Lab as a guest speaker to talk about his brush with death: he was killed by a sniper in Baghdad in 2007 but was miraculously revived 15 minutes later. Events such as that talk, Bateman says, allow vets at the Lab to feel represented. Such events also help all employees better understand the veteran experience.

Bateman grew up in a military family and felt it was his duty to serve his country and stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. Many veterans have similar stories. VERG understands this mentality, Bateman says, and encourages veterans to support each other and find meaningful work at Los Alamos. “The veteran community can enhance the Lab culture of employees helping one another,” he says. “As a Los Alamos employee, you are contributing to something greater than any one person.”

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The gold award.

A great place to work

The Lab wins an award for recruiting and hiring vets.

The Laboratory was recently recognized for “exemplary efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans” with a gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Medallion Program is the only federal-level veteran hiring award.

“I am constantly hearing about and have experienced first-hand what great employees our veterans and transitioned military personnel are,” says C.J. Bacino, of the Lab’s Office of Diversity and Strategic Staffing. “We’re honored to be recognized for our efforts in this area, but the truth is we’re lucky to have such dedicated and talented people select the Lab as their employer of choice.”

In a congratulatory correspondence from Eugene Scalia, Secretary of Labor, to Tim Babicke, Human Resources Deputy Division Leader, the Lab is credited with “demonstrated patriotism worthy of praise … and recognition of the value veterans bring to the workplace.”

“We’ve increased our numbers of veterans hired this past year with increased outreach efforts, like attending more military-focused events, visiting bases we’ve not previously visited, and creating an event with New Mexico Workforce Connection that incorporated local employers,” says veteran recruiter Junior Hamilton. “In addition, we provided resumé and cover letter classes in Santa Fe and Española to help veterans navigate the Laboratory’s application process. It’s definitely been a team effort by the recruiters to share more widely the significance of the Lab’s national security mission.”