Jacksonville veterans get chance to shine at graduation, turned-employment recruiting event

Military veterans prepare for civilian life

For eight local military veterans, today was the beginning of a bright future for them in the civilian workforce.

They’re the most recent graduates of Operation New Uniform’s Cohort 27 class, a nonprofit with a mission to teach veterans how their skill sets can translate to meaningful careers.

Graduates like Jonathan Boyd say that transition can be tough.

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“I had a great experience in the Marine Corps, and then come to find out things didn’t work out liked I planned to when I left,” said Boyd.

He spent up to eight months searching for a job but kept hitting road blocks.

It was a similar experience for fellow graduate and Navy veteran Darius Vergara until the two of them were introduced to Operation New Uniform.

“I’m more confident, I know what to talk about, I understand about my skills and how to talk to people about it,” said Vergara.

This morning at Black Knight Inc., the new ONU graduates got a chance to show off their skills.

The nonprofit’s founder and executive director, Michele McManamon, said they’re there to bridge the gap.

“We have a 96 percent success rate of our veterans getting careers, not jobs, after they graduate our program. Sometimes as quickly as three weeks, some as long as three months and some a little longer,” said McManamon.

Today’s graduation was unlike any other because sitting in the audience were more than a dozen recruiters.

“They have served our country and served all of us, so it’s time that we return that favor and serve them,” said Melissa Circelli, chief human resources officer at Black Knight.

Altogether, 232 veterans have graduated from the ONU program. Some of them were in attendance at today’s graduation to cheer on their fellow veterans.