Editor’s note: This column by Brent Hoskins was originally published in the August issue of BTA’s Office Technology magazine.
In the fall of 2020, Jeremiah Shepard was asked to prepare a veteran hiring policy for the dealership where he serves as general manager of technical services, Dove Print Solutions, based in Florence, South Carolina. He was asked to do so given his military career. He joined the service in 1994 and retired in February 2019 as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army Infantry.
Above: Jeremiah Shepard
As he pursued the preparation of a hiring policy, Jeremiah reached out to BTA General Counsel Bob Goldberg, asking if any related resources existed in the office technology industry that could assist him with his task. In short order, their interaction sparked an idea. Together, they saw an opportunity to fill a void in the industry by developing a means of connecting dealers with veterans, providing veterans with employment opportunities in the industry.
Bob reached out to two industry and military veterans for assistance: Mike Stramaglio, president and CEO of Stramaglio Consulting LLC, and Frank Cannata, founder and editor-at-large of The Cannata Report. Both Mike and Frank immediately took interest in Jeremiah’s inquiry. As a result, the idea grew from a BTA member question to a new industry program — Veterans Enhancing Technology (VETech).
“I am truly honored that the idea came to fruition,” Jeremiah told me in a recent Teams call. “I’m a rookie; I’ve only been in this industry for two years, but somebody listened. Having the enthusiasm from Bob, Frank, and Mike from the very start has been great — that enthusiasm to say, ‘Yes, why don’t we have this?’ This is going to be wonderful for our industry.”
In my call with Jeremiah, he noted that there are currently 1.4 million active-duty personnel and reserves across all U.S. uniformed services. “There are about 2,000 personnel exiting military service each month,” he said. “That is a lot of skill sets that can be valuable to this industry.”
VETech is gaining momentum. A number of dealers have posted job openings at www.bta.org/VETech since it was launched on the BTA website in February 2021. Veterans seeking positions can post their qualifications and respond to employer postings. The VETech board members are working to get the word out to military veteran organizations about the resource, encouraging the posting of résumés. Industry dealers who have served in the military and others with connections to military bases, etc., are likewise encouraged to assist in making veterans aware of VETech.
Above: Brent Hoskins
When I spoke to Jeremiah, he recommended that dealers posting on VETech be mindful of the need to update the wording of past job postings. For example, he notes that some current postings seek “seasoned technicians” from the industry, which may preclude many veterans, particularly those entering the civilian workforce after retiring from military careers. He recommends dealers explore www.onetonline.org for insight into wording job postings for veterans.
Once hired, veterans may need some industry training, Jeremiah acknowledged. In our call, he pointed out the certificates of completion from BTA service training programs offered by Ken Edmonds, proudly displayed on his office wall, visible to me via webcam. Such training, coupled with the skill sets veterans bring to dealerships, can be ideal, he said. “In my case, I know a lot of the things I did in my military career can be applied in my job today, such as service as a drill sergeant and an instructor.”