Staff Sergeant David Lowe of Pawtucket, who has been deployed overseas, knows the Armory on Airport Road. As a member of the 1207 Forward Support Company of the Rhode Island Army National Guard, Lowe was in the armory often. But on Tuesday morning, he was back looking for a job with CVS Caremark. CVS was co-sponsor of “Hiring Our Heroes,” a job fair for active military members, veterans and their spouses.
Lowe, who enlisted more than 16 years ago and is still active with the 1207FSC, is looking for an information technology job, and has six years of experience in the field.
“I work here and there, but it’s not a full-time gig like I used to have,” he said, noting how difficult it can be for soldiers returning home. “You’re used to being busy all the time, and now you’re not.”
That’s one of the reasons why CVS Caremark, the largest integrated pharmacy company in the United States, joined forces with the Rhode Island National Guard and Reserve to sponsor the event. Since 2011, CVS Caremark has participated in more than 40 veterans-focused hiring fairs across the country.
On Tuesday, Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, signed a statement of support for Guard and Reserve members. By signing the pledge, CVS Caremark is making a commitment to further support the nation’s troops.
“Hiring Our Heroes plays a vital role in connecting our nation’s veterans to jobs,” Merlo said in a press release, as well as at the event, which drew a crowd of about 75. “Our servicemen and women, and their families, sacrifice so much for our country. This initiative helps ease their transition from active duty to civilian life and we are proud to be a part of it.”
He went on to say CVS Caremark appreciates the values and skills service members bring to the workforce, and that veterans and military members currently work in a number of positions across the company.
Marine Corps Reserves Ryan Murphy of Massachusetts, as well as Robert Mainville and Dejurne McCall of Burrillville, who just returned home from basic training, attended the event, as they are all looking for jobs.
Murphy said he’s grateful to CVS for putting together the fair, and hopes to put his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Stonehill University in Massachusetts to good use.
“I’d like to get my foot in the door for a management program,” he said. “I just met a lady who ran the program, so that’s a good step. It’s nice that CVS actually cares and reached out to the military. You don’t see that too much, and I think it’s important.”
He’s also glad to see that CVS is offering jobs that allow employees to advance their careers and give promotions. McCall, who has a bachelor’s in Business Management from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, as well as Mainville, agreed.
“It’s definitely a good opportunity, and a good way to get your foot in the door,” said Mainville, who is thinking about going to Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island to study Business Management or Sports Science.
Diana Saccoccio, assessment advisor for the CAM Group, which operates under the umbrella of CVS, said they are hiring all types of positions, including jobs at their distribution center, to the stores.
Interestingly enough, she is a military spouse: her husband, Charles Andrews, is in the Air National Guard.
“We are proud to be part of a company that goes to this length to be able to do something like this,” she said. “With Rhode Island being such a small state, we’re having such a huge contingency of reserve and guard. We take notice of that, and I think it makes a big difference. We have a lot of veterans that work for the company that came out of the military, have civilian skill sets, but can still use that military mindset, proving to be [ideal] employees.”
One of those employees is Mike Whittingham, who works as an information security RISK manager for CVS. Whittingham served in the Army for 24 years and is now a retired major. He has been with CVS for about a year, and thinks military members make great workers because they have good work ethics and strong leadership skills.
“The military spends a lot of money to train people, and for them to be able to take the skills that they learned in the military and apply them over to the civilian side is a great benefit for a company such as CVS,” he said. “And I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of the soldiers that are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.”
At the event, Merlo was joined by Brigadier General Charles Petrarca, the assistant adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard; James Rebholz, national chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Mike Ritz, chairman of the Rhode Island branch of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; and Kevin Schmiegel, executive director of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.