BizTimes Milwaukee | May 30, 2016

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veterans in the workplace small arms repair when he served in the Army from 2006 to 2012. “It translates over perfectly to what I do now,” he said of working at the firearms and mounts maker. Kattner spends time handling tech support, assembling rifles and generally troubleshooting. He’s also able to lend his background and expertise to the design and engineering team to make products more ergonomic and user-friendly. Like Kattner, Sheboygan resident Ben DeVore specialized in small arms repair. When he joined the National Guard, he was already planning to someday open his own business focused on gun repair and restoration. He made the business, American Gun Resurrection, a reality at the end of 2015. He’s running it out of his house for now, but would eventually like to build it into a one-stop shop for shooting sports. “I’d like to be able to create jobs,” DeVore said. While he works toward that goal, DeVore is also putting his military training

to work at Pace Industries in Grafton. He was hired for welding but now handles maintenance on third shift. “The machines I work on I had never even seen a day in my life,” DeVore said of working at the die casting company. But he said he gained confidence in the military. “Even to this day, there are sometimes problems that arise that I haven’t encountered before,” he said. The expectation in the military is for the task to be completed, so he keeps trying until he finds a solution. Yeh agreed, adding there’s always a solution, but sometimes those who haven’t served are willing to accept that something has always been done a certain way. “You’ve got to have positive movement forward,” Yeh said, and change takes time. Daniel Skinkis is one of those veterans whose skills didn’t directly transfer from the military to the civilian workforce. The Associated Bank portfolio manager worked in aviation logistics during his time in the Marine Corps. He spent time stationed in Arizona and San Diego, along with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veteran unemployment rates in Wisconsin Year

Wisconsin veteran unemployment rate

Wisconsin non-veteran unemployment rate

2011 8.9

7.5

2012 8.4

6.8

2013 7.6

6.5

2014 4.1

5.4

2015 3.6

4.4

SOURCE: U.S BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

When he left the Marines, Skinkis enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for business. He eventually found his way to a corporate training program at Associated. While he acknowledged tracking shipments of large helicopter parts doesn’t have a lot in common with finance, Skinkis said veterans generally have the traits of discipline, confidence, hard work and determination. “We have those skills; we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done,”

Skinkis said. He recalled a superior in the Marines telling him it is important to make a manager’s life easier. At Associated, he’s had superiors express a desire to hire more veterans for their background. Skinkis said more veterans need to realize they have a lot to offer, even if their specialty doesn’t explicitly transfer to the civilian workforce. “Just make sure you use them and that you learn to speak to them correctly,” he said. n

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