Los Angeles News

Walt Disney Company launches work expos for military veterans

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

US military veterans risk their lives for their country, but when they come back home, like many others, they often have a tough time finding a job. The Walt Disney Company has kicked off a series of career expos to help returning vets get hired.

Military veterans know a thing or two about tough times. But after serving in hotspots around the world, many say finding a job in civilian life is tough.

U.S. Navy veteran Mike Diaz is hoping the Walt Disney Company can change that. He came to Disney's Burbank lot with more than 300 other veterans to test their luck at a career expo designed specifically for military vets. It's part of Disney's "Heroes Work Here" initiative. One of its goals is to hire 1,000 veterans.

"Another is to create awareness and to exhort other companies to do similar things, and the third is to train, to help them find jobs," said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.

Veterans took part in workshops focusing on things like resume writing and interview skills, and they were able to meet with hiring managers.

On hand was actor and Army veteran J.R. Martinez, who credits Disney for giving him his big break on the ABC soap opera "All My Children" and the prime-time show "Dancing With the Stars."

"If you give them a platform the same way that you gave me a platform; if you give them a challenge and you say, 'We want to give you an opportunity to learn, to do something completely different than what you did in the military,' you can almost guarantee and count on the fact that they're going to find ways to excel in that position," said Martinez.

But the "Heroes Work Here" program is not a one-way street. In fact, Disney officials will be the first to tell you that veterans bring a lot to the table, qualities that will definitely help the company.

"These are people that not only have shown a great dedication, but they've been very well trained, so we obviously benefit by finding more great people, and clearly veterans benefit by finding jobs," said Iger.

"Military people are extremely skilled and highly motivated," said vet Mike Diaz. "And I think that's one of the advantages that companies have if they hire veterans."

"We also have a lot of great qualities that we possess from serving: integrity, service before self, excellence in all that we do," said Air Force veteran Karoline Newell. "Those are really important to everyone that has served."

The company will hold similar expos in New York and Orlando over the next few days.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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