Career Prep

Launching Veterans' Careers

Networking. That's been the key to civilian success as the owner of a profitable small business venture for one of the newest members of the Office of Veterans Services (OVS) team at USF. U.S. Air Force Colonel Russ Barnes (Ret.) intends to put this skill to work as he launches the Veterans Employment Project, one of a trifecta of new OVS programs funded through a generous grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. earlier in 2014.

EmploymentAccording to Barnes, the ultimate objective of the Employment Project is to "match USF's student veterans with talent seeking employers who value the skills, ethics, and mentality that former military personnel bring to the workplace." By providing career readiness services to students and developing a formal network of employers, Barnes expects the program to be instrumental in successfully launching careers following graduation. An aggressive timeline means that the program will start producing success stories the summer of 2014.

Tapping into strategic, operational, and training expertise gained as a Division Chief at USCENTCOM in Tampa at the conclusion of a distinguished 27-year military career, Barnes is putting the finishing touches on a program of instruction and building pathways to employment to launch in May 2014. Student veterans completing the program will not only be equipped to articulate their career objectives and effectively job search, but will also have employment inroads cultivated by Barnes.

So what motivated a successful business man and retired colonel with multiple advanced degrees to invest in a fledgling program at USF?

"Since entering civilian life in 2009, I kept hearing how veterans have difficulty translating military career skills to civilian employment," said Barnes. "When I heard about the work of OVS and the Strategy for Vet Success class, I knew I could share the lessons I have learned in my own transition to help USF students, so I began teaching a module on networking in Dr. Braue's class. Then, when the JPMC grant came through, I knew this program was an opportunity to make a more significant impact on the lives of vets whose service we are so very grateful for. I didn't have to think twice before joining this dedicated team."

Student veterans interested in learning more about the Employment Project should contact Barnes at or 813-974-9528.