Spouses of Active-Duty Military Get Career Help with Successful Back-to-Work Boot Camp

Having already helped over 150 Veterans transition to rewarding civilian careers, the Des Plaines Chamber and Rivers Casino are now opening a highly effective employment program to spouses of active-duty military.

Since its inception in 2017, the Veterans Back-to-Work Boot Camp created and administered by the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry has provided the training, equipment, and networking opportunities for over 150 former military members to successfully transition into career positions in civilian employment.

“Americans owe their thanks to the brave service people who have worked so hard for the betterment and safety of this country,” explains Des Plaines Chamber executive director Andrea Biwer. “The Back-to-Work Boot Camp is one way we help service people transition to civilian success.”

The 2023 Veterans Back-to-Work Boot Camp application process has just opened online at www.dpchamber.com. New this year, in addition to committing to help former military personnel with their civilian job search, the Des Plaines Chamber and its program sponsors will be offering assistance to the spouses of active-duty service people who are stationed in the Chicagoland area.

“Spouses are important in any family, and of course play a vital role in military families. In many ways the spouses of service people are making sacrifices as great as their partner – just in different ways,” says Biwer with the inviting smile of someone whose main focus is on helping others.

In fact, the Veterans employment program is Biwer’s brainchild, born out of her desire to make sure the Des Plaines business community is giving proper respect and assistance to those who sacrifice for the nation. And although the training takes place in Des Plaines, participants don’t have to be residents of the community.

“We help people from all over, and this year, we will be including spouses of active-duty service people in the Back-to-Work Boot Camp. We want to help these remarkable men and women get the employment then need to stay vital while their family is stationed here,” offers Biwer.

The Back-to-Work Boot Camp has already made a major impact in helping veterans earn a place in civilian careers. Adding spouses of active-duty military is a natural way to increase the reach and impact of the program.

The idea of adding the spouses of active-duty service people to the Back-to-Work Boot Camp was met with quick embrace by the businesses represented by the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Sponsors for the 2023 Veterans and active-duty spouses employment program include Rivers Casino, American Legion Post 36, Harper College, Oakton College, Daily Herald Media Group, Journal & Topics Media Group, Planet Fitness, Home Depot, Foxtail on the Lake Restaurant, and the Jessica and Timothy Canning Charitable Fund.

“Military spouses often face unique challenges and sacrifices due to the frequent relocations and deployments of their partners. Including them in the program acknowledges and honors their sacrifices while providing them with valuable opportunities to re-enter the workforce and find meaningful employment,” adds Marne Diethorn, vice president of human resources at Rivers Casino, one of the prime sponsors of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce Back-to-Work Boot Camp. Diethron is both a veteran and a military spouse.

The aid packages that participants in the 2023 class of the Back-to-Work Boot Camp will receive are worth over $10,000 each and include professional mentoring, advanced skills development, expert networking training, and a new laptop and software package.

The Des Plaines Chamber’s Veterans Back-to-Work Boot Camp has been so successful that other Chambers and similar organizations around the country have made inquiries about licensing the program to bring it to their communities.

“Helping people is a universal concept. That’s what the Veterans Boot Camp is for – to help people. And, the impact has been incredible,” says Biwer. “If we can help other chambers and civic organizations establish similar training programs, the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry wants to do that.”

Following the 10-week training program, a career fair will be held at the Des Plaines Public Library. The event is open to all job seekers, however there will be a private pre-fair reception for all veterans and their families one hour before the show opens to the public. These special job fairs have historically led to employment for an impressive number of job applicants. Applications for the 2023 Veterans Back-to-Work Boot Camp and additional information on the program and culminating career fair are available on the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry interactive website at www.dpchamber.com.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


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