Veterans Reconnect With Military Through Retail Management Training Program

Denise Evans wanted a sense of belonging. She had served 10 years in the Army, separating in 1991. For years, she has worked in retail, but yearned for a connection to the military. She has found that link through her new job at the Exchange.

Evans is one of eight Veterans participating in the Veterans Retail Management Training program, which prepares new and current associates for manager positions. The Exchange has offered retail management training for years, but this is the second class that’s focused solely on recruiting and retaining Veterans—a priority for the organization.

“I wanted to be somewhere I belong, where I can finish out my career,” said Evans, who is finishing her management training at the Fort Belvoir Exchange. “The leadership here sees that I still have something to offer.”

Evans and her fellow trainees completed roughly two weeks of classes at headquarters. They are training for 10 weeks at Exchanges around the country, learning the ropes of managing main stores, Expresses and more. Associates who successfully complete the program will be placed in permanent roles.

“The Exchange puts a lot of stock in you,” Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull told the Veterans during their time in Dallas. “As Veterans, you understand us what the Exchange means and what we do for those who serve.”

Luis Ramos, a four-year Army Veteran, began working for the Fort Riley Exchange in 2016. His manager at the Big Red One Express saw his potential and encouraged him to apply for the management program.

“This program has been a big eye-opener,” Ramos said. “I see the bigger picture now, and I have more respect for what the organization is doing.”

Onika Simmons, an Air Force Veteran who is training at the Kirtland Air Force Base Exchange, remembers how valuable the Exchange was when she served overseas, especially at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. She’s excited about her future.

“The Exchange offers great opportunity for Veterans,” Simmons said. “It can be tough finding a job. Employers put up a wall. They don’t want to hear about your military past.”

Besides Evans, Ramos and Simmons, the current trainees and their assignments include:

  • Jaqueall Jackson, Fort Hood
  • Daniel Barnhart, Fort Hood
  • Lamin Cham, Maxwell AFB
  • Summer Duke, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland
  • Tanya Poole, Fort Benning

(Pictured above from left to right: Denise Evans, Summer Duke, Onika Simmons, Tanya Poole, Jaqueall Jackson, Lamin Cham, Daniel Barnhart and Luis Ramos.)

The Exchange is planning to kick off the third Veterans Retail Management Training in June. Current associates who are Veterans can look for an upcoming job posting at ApplyMyExchange.com or speak with their local Human Resources team.

Read more about Veterans who have found their calling at the Exchange.

 

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