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    Friday, September 29, 2023

    EB ramps up focus on hiring, retaining military veterans

    Groton — For Electric Boat, the hiring of military veterans is anything but an act of charity.

    It’s a necessity, and it’s sure to become a bigger one as the submarine builder grapples with the demands of Navy contracts EB's been awarded in recent years. Between now and 2021, for example, EB's committed to building two Virginia-class submarines a year.

    Company executives drove the point home here Thursday during an event that marked the launch of the EB Veterans Network, an initiative aimed at providing opportunities for current and future veteran employees through mentoring, recruitment and support programs.

    About 20 percent of EB’s 14,500 workers are veterans, a percentage the company hopes to maintain or exceed as it expands to more than 18,000 employees during the 2020s, Ken Perry, the company’s vice president of program integration, said.

    “I’d actually like to goose it (beyond 20 percent)," Maura Dunn, EB vice president of human resources and administration, said. “Twenty-five or 30 percent would be a remarkable percentage for a defense contractor like ourselves.”

    U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, joined in touting the initiative, addressing EB veteran workers and reporters who gathered in the atrium of the Technology Center on EB’s Eastern Point Road campus.

    Blumenthal thanked the men and women of Electric Boat for building “the best submarines in the world,” saying the company's workers are as essential to U.S. security as “the men and women in uniform around the world.”

    He said that as employees, veterans are prized for their skill and competence.

    “This is a great day for all who care about veterans and our readiness as a nation,” Blumenthal said.

    Courtney noted the difference in the level of shipyard activity compared to several years ago. Going forward, he said, the issue is not whether EB will have enough work but if it will have the workers it needs.

    He said the company’s website listed 134 job openings Thursday.

    Connecticut has contributed to the effort to employ veterans by approving tax credits for employers who hire them. And Sean Connolly, commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, said Connecticut has exempted military retirement pay from taxation.

    Anthony Paolino, of EB military and veterans affairs, outlined the company’s veterans network initiative, which has four main objectives: to establish a vehicle for peer support and camaraderie; to identify qualified veteran candidates for current and future job openings; to create a veterans-rich workforce; and to “establish a culture that is aware and supportive of veteran integration needs.”

    To accomplish the objectives, EB has established the Veteran Sponsor Program in which current veteran employees mentor new veteran employees; the Veteran Outreach Volunteer Team to assist in the recruitment of service members; and the Veterans Support Team, open to all current EB employees, which will develop outreach programs for networking and veterans’ benefits awareness.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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