“Uncle Sam” Wants You. And We Do, Too!

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – December 7, 2016 – Comment

Many of us have seen the iconic poster of “Uncle Sam,” a stern look on his face, a firm finger pointing right at the reader, and him declaring “I want you for the U.S. Army. Enlist Now.” Starting with World War I, it was a promotional powerhouse inspiring tens of thousands of men and women to join the Army over the decades.

The poster stirs up a multitude of feelings: Who has the responsibility to protect their country?  What opportunities are available?  Do I look good in a uniform? 

What it doesn’t answer for recruits is the question of, “What do I do when I’m done working for ‘Uncle Sam’?” Today, that question finds a solution in the Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program.

PaYS is unique program that is part of the Army’s effort to partner with America’s business community. With its key function being to guarantee soldiers an interview and possible employment after the Army, PaYS is in every sense of the term a win-win-win venture; for the Army, for veterans and reservists, and for partnering businesses.

Undoubtedly, the decision to join the Army is complex and filled with many different questions, the decisions to leave military life are no less daunting.  Sure, the Army prepares a person for life, offering career skills, building the foundations of emotional and physical strength building, and providing problem-solving and character-building experiences like no other. So knowing all this, what could he or she possible have to worry about the future?

The challenge comes in the reality that, while the Army can make a person “marketable” for a career, it cannot control the state of the economy and the job market. PaYS helps combat that challenge by providing a guaranteed open door for the enlisted, reservists and ROTC cadet populations. It provides a peace of mind for these individuals in terms of future livelihood so that they can focus on succeeding in their military careers. This is a “win” for the soldier and the Army alike.

As for PaYS partners, the “win” comes from having access to an incredibly talented, experienced, proven and eager pool of potential employees – many of whom have spent years becoming engineers, technicians and leaders.  These are the skills needed by many industries, but in particular by the water industry.

Working at a water or wastewater plant is not your typical 8 to 5, “punch the clock”, type job.  The need for water services is a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year commitment.  Whether it is fixing a water main break at 2 am on Thanksgiving day, or keeping the pumps running during major weather events, the commitment to public service by water operators is much like the commitment that service members make to their country.  With an aging work force where 50% of currently employees could be eligible to retire in the next 5 to 10 years, there is a natural fit to recruit veterans to a second career in the water industry.

American Water is proud to participate in PaYS, and we look forward to other companies and industries doing the same. You can see a recent video through our Facebook page from an event announcing our involvement in the program.  The proud faces are inspirational.

The reasons to be involved in this program, however, extend far beyond having a resource for hiring. Being able to offer employment opportunities to the qualified men and women who have served our country, and to give back to them for all they have done for us is a partnership that makes sense.  To whom could we entrust the safety and security of our water systems than to those who have already served the safety and security of our country!