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Veteran Fellows Transition to Employment 

September 20, 2018

Veterans returning from service have a wealth of skills drawn from their military experience, but often experience a difficult transition to employment in the private sector. The Port of Seattle’s Veteran Fellowship Program offers six-month temporary employment to six transitioning veterans each year and is designed to equip veterans with skills needed to be successful in jobs outside the military. The program has proven successful in equipping veterans with the skills to transition into the civilian world. Eighty-five percent of fellows have found permanent employment within six months of completing the program and the remaining 15 percent re-enlisted or went back to school. The Port of Seattle retained over half of the talent with 51 percent hired into fulltime positions or as emergency hires.

The Port’s newest class of Veteran Fellows started in June. Here are a few profiles of the Port’s current veteran fellows.

Chad Aldridge, Policy and Outreach ManagerChad Aldridge

During his six-month fellowship, Chad Aldridge is working on the implementation of the Port’s Anti-Human Trafficking strategy, which was passed by the Commission in January 2018.

He recently retired after a 27-year military career where he started as a military policeman, before serving as a criminal investigator for the Army. Aldridge grew up in North Carolina and joined the military at the age of 17. He said his military background has prepared him well for his current role at the Port.

“I’m pretty used to an environment with moving targets,” he said. “I appreciate the welcoming atmosphere from all other employees, the freedom of movement and autonomy I have to go out and talk to people to get the information we need to find a way ahead for a training and public awareness campaign,” he said. 

In an environment where everything was in a constant state of flux, he also learned how to be flexible. “Leadership in the military rotates out every two years, and with new personnel coming in things are going to change,” he said. 

Outside of work Aldridge enjoys spending time with his wife and son.

“In the military you are always moving around the world so time with family is important,” he said. “I’m also a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, whose motto is Veterans Helping Veterans — a nonprofit that helps veterans in need in the local community.”

Jeremy Beck, Business Analyst

Jeremy Beck joined the Port as a Veteran Fellow after five years in the navy.

In his daily work at the Port, Beck gathers requirements from different internal customers to write software proposals. Beck said he loves the variety of roles that the Port provides and appreciates the opportunity to grow as a business analyst.

The tech world is a change from his navy work in the nuclear electrical field as a submariner, where he worked on engine room maintenance and operations, but his adaptability, work ethic, and experience working in a team environment have helped his transition.
Beck was born and raised in Atlanta, but the technical opportunity in this region provides and the wealth of outdoor activities has made Seattle the perfect place for Beck to build a career. 

In his free time he loves spending time outdoors, including hiking, backpacking, and exploring different parts of Washington. “You can’t get that back home in Atlanta.”

Jeremy says he’d love to continue working in the technology field in the Seattle area for the long term. He recently met that goal when he accepted a full time-job at Microsoft. He’s a success story for the Port and for Jeremy, as the goal of the veterans program is to help veterans transition to new jobs.

Juan Alvergue, Seaport Project ManagerJuan Alvergue

After a 20-year navy career, Juan Alvergue said he hopes this opportunity at the Port will help him transfer the skills he developed during his time in the military into the civilian world.

Alvergue spent the first half of his military career working on submarines on the USS Toledo, before a tour in Afghanistan, where he was in charge of the in-processing team for the Afghan local police. 

He said the Port has given him the opportunity to branch out and learn something completely different in an exciting environment.
 “At the Port, you are given a task and you are expected to fulfill that task. In the military, you do the same thing.”

His experience as a leader and empowering his employees to be successful has been helpful as he builds relationships with coworkers.
“(In the military) people are first,” he said. “As far as myself as a leader, we do not hold our own individual accomplishments as actual accomplishments. When those around us achieve success, we can look at and say that was a job well done.”

Alvergue was born in El Salvador and came to the United States at the age of eight. After joining the navy in Arizona in 1998 he has been stationed all over the world. 

Outside of work at the Port, Alvergue said he is an outdoorsman.

“Being in the military, fitness is an important aspect of that so I still like to work out. You put me outdoors, and I will be happy. Hobby-wise, I like to do obstacle races and personally, I like to watch my kids and play sports with them.”

*Hewan Mengistu also contributed to this story

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