• Friday, Mar. 5, 2021
National Guard Advisors Providing Guidance To Veterans Transitioning To Civilian Life
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Vets2Set, the not-for-profit veterans support organization designed to jumpstart veterans in careers in media and entertainment, participated in a day of online presentations to National Guard Bureau Transition Assistance Advisors working throughout the United States and its territories. The program was introduced by two of the Vets2Set co-founders, David Cohen and Colonel (ret) Maureen Weigl.  

Weigl has extensive experience in military human resource and personnel policies. She encouraged the advisors to make veterans in all U.S. states and territories aware of this opportunity for building careers in civilian life.  Cohen and third Vets2Set co-founder, Peter Friedman, combine their decades of leadership in commercial and entertainment production to guide the effort to place two veterans in entry-level, paid positions on every production set and post-production project. Although most positions open up in production centers such as Los Angeles and New York, Cohen emphasized that production assistant opportunities arise throughout the country. In Atlanta alone, as many as forty productions have been active at one time on commercial and movie or television sets. One Vets2Set partner, Major League Baseball Network, has the potential for hiring veterans at any one of its 37 ballparks around the country.

The program works by enrolling interested veterans in its database. Colonel Weigl validates military credentials and then the veterans’ contact information and special interests become searchable by participating employers. Currently there are more than 350 veterans in 30 states registered and more than 120 employers in 19 states. Employers committed to hiring two veterans for their productions search the database by zip code to find appropriate staff for shoots wherever shoots take place. Production companies hire and pay the veterans directly. No fees are paid to Vets2Set by veterans or employers. As a not-for-profit organization, Vets2Set depends solely on donations and volunteer work.

Veterans can readily earn between $200 and $250 per day for a 12-hour shoot, and a shoot may run one or several days. In the last year, several enrolled veterans have taken a course to qualify as COVID compliance officers, now required throughout the production industry. These veterans have earned as much as $850 per day. The genius of the Vets2Set program for employers is the fact that hiring two veterans adds nothing to their costs because production assistants and other staffing requirements are already in their budgets.  Vets2Set aims to introduce veterans at an entry level to media and entertainment opportunities, provide guidance and training through online resources, and urge them to exploit the work opportunities that suit the discipline and hard work they are familiar with from their military service. Movie, television, and commercial production shoots reflect the organized chaos of military missions.  

While most jobs found through Vets2Set are short-term, several veterans have been rehired, building their base of experience and contacts that can eventually earn them membership in a union. An air force veteran who worked on the very first Vets2Set project, a commercial for Samsung, let it be known that he knew how to fly drones. Two weeks later he worked on a Chrysler commercial requiring a drone operator. Another veteran who qualified as a COVID compliance officer, immediately booked work on several shoots and now finds herself in a full-time position with “Saturday Night Live”, opening up unpredictable career opportunities.

Cohen announced that the Vets2Set website will soon expand its online resources for training thanks to a generous donation from Comcast/NBCUniversal. The website will feature a Member Hub for veterans, including a bulletin board of job and learning opportunities, a chat room to share experiences, and recorded training seminars and downloadable resources such as “How to Be a Great PA” to introduce veterans to life on a set. Vets2Set will also soon introduce its Leadership Council of military and industry leaders who are eager to advise the organization and expand awareness of its efforts.

Veterans and employers can enroll in this veteran employment program here.  

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