Standing up for Veterans at Portland’s Annual Stand Down

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night. An additional 1.4 million are at risk of losing their accommodation.

On the 16th anniversary of 9/11, Portland held Oregon’s largest Veterans Stand Down event. The event honors and supports those who, having heroically put their lives on the line, are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Kate Montgomery, regional HR manager, and Caleb Howe, HR coordinator for City Center Parking, traveled to the event in a bid to offer employment to those who need it most.

“The Veterans Stand Down event serves those who have served us in the military,” Kate explains. “The event has a job fair as well as free clothing, canned food, haircuts, medical care, animal care and grooming, and other basic services. Some participants are just in need of a meal, but others are fresh out of the military and trying to figure out how to transfer their skills to the private employment sector.”

The transition from military life to private employment is where many veterans experience difficulties. A recent survey concluded that over a third of post-9/11 veterans felt stigmatized by potential employers, believing that, as job candidates, they were viewed as “dangerous or ‘broken.’”

Impark actively avoids negative preconceptions like this, to the benefit of our candidates, employees, and corporate culture. “We do these events to promote diversity amongst our growing population of employees,” Kate says. “We understand that having a diverse employee base builds our culture as an inclusive company. That inclusivity attracts talent and empowers them to grow their careers.

The wider job market is not always so generous. Veterans are, by and large, highly motivated to work hard and hone their business acumen. However, USC’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families found that many are frustrated by having to start at the bottom of the corporate ladder in roles that barely offer a living wage.

Kate says that veterans shouldn’t feel forced to start back at square one. Instead, human resources professionals and recruiters must dig deeper when evaluating a veteran’s skillset: “When I’m speaking with a veteran and they say ‘Well, I’d like to make more money, but I’ve only worked at Costco pumping gas,’ I ask: what did you do in the military? Maybe they rigged parachutes or worked maintenance on an aircraft. Then I ask: were you responsible for other soldiers in the military? Did you have to fill out maintenance paperwork or take corrective actions? Turns out, they did. Now, they’re qualified for a management position that they’ll find so much more fulfilling.”

Impark is committed to helping people from all walks begin the next chapter of their lives. We will continue to attend Stand Downs, as well as many other diversity events across North America, for years to come.

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