Atlanta Hawks offer job seminar for veterans leaving the military

About 200,000 people leave the U.S. Military every year, but finding a new job isn’t simple.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 11:23 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - About 200,000 people leave the U.S. Military every year, but finding a new job isn’t simple. Most people who have never served have no clue how difficult the transition really is.

Pew Research shows veterans who have experienced trauma, injury, served in combat or know someone killed or injured have a tough time re-entering the civilian workforce.

The Atlanta Hawks did more than just say thank vets for their service Thursday. The NBA team offered a service to help Georgia vets get their first job out of uniform. The team hosted a fireside chat to talk one on one with veterans and shared success stories within their own organization.

Emily Drexler, Senior Director with the Atlanta Hawks, and former safety and security manager served eight years in the Army. She was deployed as a Sergeant and was the assistant convoy commander in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012. Drexler explained everyone’s journey is different, and returning to civilian life has challenges, “but you can do this! Do not be afraid to ask for help,” added Drexler.

Fred Brown, who works in the security department for the Hawks and State Farm Arena is also a court support manager for the office of the Fulton County Solicitor General. Brown served in the Navy for four years before transitioning to the civilian workforce. Brown too shared his challenges, explained how the employment doors were slammed in his face.

“I had faith. I never gave up. Even when it’s tough, keep applying,” he said.

The vets fanned out when 6 foot, 10 inches tall power forward Onyeka Okongwu arrived. The 6th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft almost did not have a career in basketball. Okongwu shared how he tore his Achilles, gained weight and was told his career might be over. He refused to quit and believed in himself. The rest is Atlanta Hawks history.

“You know everybody’s life and career path is different,” said Okongwu. We’re all enduring adversity. It happens to everybody. You gotta keep your head up. You can’t be down in the dumps. Just because one door closes. Keep your head held high. Stay confident. God has a plan for everybody. Just stay locked in,” he said.

Vets got to meet the recruiting coordinator with Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear and Southern Company Gas. The Atlanta Hawks didn’t just talk today; the team offered a hand up and the opportunity to fill job openings on the spot along with the support to make sure they stay there.