New program helps military service members transition into civilian careers


Unemployment numbers are down for veterans in South Carolina. Operation Palmetto Employment, a new initiative by Gov. Nikki Haley, is helping keep those numbers low.

"It's awesome. I have a 2-year-old daughter, so it's nice to have the stability and be able to provide for her," said Toy Osborne, Army National Guard Reservist.

Osborne has served our country for six years and is currently a mechanic on Apache helicopters. After returning home from deployment, he needed help in return.

"You feel very unstable when you come home and you don't have a job and you're stressing trying to find a job on your own," said Osborne. "It's really hard."

Then, a friend told Osborne about Operation Palmetto Employment. 

"It's just finding those doors and opening them for them," said Marie Elana Roland, Employment Advisor for SC National Guard.

There are seven locations where Operation Palmetto operates in South Carolina, Roland oversees the North Charleston branch. She works to match service members and veterans with careers that fit their talents.

"You're really working with them one-on-one and really looking at the whole aspects of their life and what is their next step as far as their transition into the civilian workforce," said Roland.

Osborne said it was comforting to have someone that understood military terminology, and could translate his skills and put them on a resume that could be used anywhere.

"It was really nice for her to be able to take my skills and actually put it in a resume format," said Osborne.

Roland insists these military members get the jobs themselves, based off their qualification. She sees herself more as a middle man, or "wing man" as she playfully puts it.

"Its not just finding a job but you've made a difference in their life and their career," said Roland.

"It means the world," said Osborne. "We feel appreciated when we have services like this to help us out and actually find employment."

Roland said she wishes more people understood the impacts military life has on not only the member themselves, but their entire family.

"What they do for us is just simply amazing and we should be out there with open arms and helping them in any way that we can," said Roland.

Osborne said he's happy he reached out to Roland and he hopes more of his fellow military service members will follow suit. 

"Swallow that pride, that's all i can say," said Osborne. "Swallow that pride and use whatever services are given to you because they actually help."

Roland says so far, her office has found jobs for over 100 service members and veterans.

If you are a military member or employer that wants to get involved in Operation Palmetto Employment, you can contact Marie Elana Roland at 843-725-0308. Also, check out the website.

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