A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Amazon military hiring program helps local veteran make a successful transition to civilian life

By Brett Bibbins
NKyTribune Contributor

The transition from active duty military member to a functioning civilian in the private sector is not always easy but companies such as Amazon are making the shift as smooth as possible for veterans across the country.

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States and is also home to a very successful military veteran hiring program. Amazon’s Hebron operation is part of the program.

“What we’ve found is that often times, veterans themselves have unique skills but they don’t know how they translate to the civilian world,” said Amazon spokesperson Nina Lindsey. “So it’s a great program that not only helps veterans identify their skills, but also helps them find a great opportunity at Amazon.”

One veteran who has found success in Amazon’s veteran hiring program is Maurice Venegas.

Venegas is a retired U.S. Army Captain who has been working as a general manager at the Amazon Fulfillment Centers in Hebron since 2011.

Venegas, born in Arizona, started his military career by completing the ROTC program at Arizona State University as a second lieutenant.

He was then sent to Army Aviation School in Alabama and graduated in 1997 after learning to pilot the UH-60 Black Hawk.

Retired U.S. Army Captain Maurice Venegas has found a rewarding job as a general manager at the Amazon fulfillment center in Hebron. Venegas was hired through Amazon's military veteran's hiring program which helps former service members transition to civilian employment.

Retired U.S. Army Captain Maurice Venegas has found a rewarding job as a general manager at the Amazon fulfillment center in Hebron. Venegas was hired through Amazon’s military veteran’s hiring program which helps former service members transition to civilian employment (Photos provided).

Venegas received orders to go to Korea for a year as a Platoon Leader and a Company Executive Officer. When he returned to the United States, Venegas was promoted to first lieutenant and worked as a Company Executive Officer for the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell.

Venegas was later promoted to captain and reported to Fort Hood, Texas, with the 4th Infantry Division. While with the 4th, he was deployed as a part of the initial invasion of Iraq, where he remained for a year.

Upon returning from Iraq in 2004, Venegas retired from active duty and started his life as a military veteran living in the civilian world.

“The transition out of the military was a bit difficult,” Venegas said. “Obviously we get very specific training in the military that then we have to try to convert into the civilian life, so that initial experience was difficult.”

While working with an apparel distribution company, Venegas was recruited to pursue a career with Amazon through the company’s veteran hiring program. Amazon saw his military background as a strength to the hiring team.

“When I came to Amazon, having that military experience, number one, made me a very strong candidate to get a position,” Venegas said. “When I was going through the recruiting process, there was definitely a lot of effort from the organization to recruit military veterans.”

Transitioning to Amazon was made easier by the military-like attitude the organization stresses.

Venegas with coworkers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Hebron

Venegas with coworkers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Hebron

“They emphasized the leadership aspect of what I had learned in the military,” Venegas said. “The transition to Amazon was not as difficult because they focused on the same things I had learned in the military, such as bias for action, servant leadership, invent and simplify, and think big.”

In 2014, Amazon hired more than 2,600 United States military veterans. Amazon also offers a large, internal network of veterans that help to mentor and support other newly hired veterans.

Venegas was content and comfortable in his first position out of the military, but the opportunity presented by the team of veterans working to hire other veterans at Amazon was too hard to pass up.

“The effort of that group of veterans to really highlight all of the benefits that Amazon provides its veterans and that recruiting process really helped to drive me to (the company),” Venegas said.

“Those programs and those mentorships and those leaders that were designated to help me transition were extremely helpful for me,” said Venegas.

Lindsey said Amazon is very proud of what they have accomplished in providing opportunities for veterans all over the United States, and she believes that the services they are offering are vital.

“It is extremely important for all of us to assist and offer support where we can for our military service members and veterans who are transitioning from active duty to a civilian role,” Lindsey said.

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