Transitions can be taxing. Shifts in life paths and careers are stressful and intimidating. Our military veterans sometimes experience that upheaval twofold.

The men and women serving our nation in the armed forces not only experience the anxiety of new jobs, but they also experience the loss of a uniform, which for many becomes as much a part of their identity as the name they bear. Yet, thanks to the efforts of organizations like Operation New Uniform (ONU), the shift is becoming more manageable.

“Typically, our veterans are frustrated that the transition that they were told would be very easy or that everyone is going to want you in the business community is a misconception,” says Michelle McManamon, executive director of ONU. She says that many service men and women experience panic over whether they’ll be able to work and pay their bills after leaving the military. “It’s an eye opener because these men and women are strong and proud, but navigating the process of leaving the military and entering the business community can be a serious challenge.”

Launched in 2014, ONU delivers training programs and ongoing support for veterans looking to hone work skills that, at times, are pushed aside in military service roles. McManamon shares that once a veteran enters ONU, they get a new family and support system that follows them throughout their entire professional life.

Michelle McManamon, executive director of ONU, speaking at one of the organization’s recent events.

ONU has already offered 1,778 hours or training over 3,000 hours of individual coaching in 2018, alone. The organization proudly emphasizes that 92 percent of ONU veterans are more financially stable, with many receiving multiple employment offers. ONU focuses on success after service, with many of the training sessions focusing on veterans re-identifying themselves after taking off the uniform.

“Our community network is strong, but it can always grow,” says McManamon. “We can always use new business partners that will welcome our veterans and allow them to shadow existing employees.” Other opportunities to help with mock interviews and event assistance are also a big part of the success of ONU.

“We are so blessed to be part of a great veteran service community here in Northeast Florida,” McManamon says. ONU is currently working on launching the organization nationally. “Many of our veterans have had great experiences in the military and we want to work hard to make sure that those who sacrifice for our country can take off the uniform without losing that which makes them great men and women.”

McManamon encourages those interested in learning more about upcoming opportunities to follow the organization on social media (@operationnewuniform on Instagram, @OperationNewUniform on Facebook ). Searching Operation New Uniform on your preferred platform will lead right to the organization.