Santa Barbara Foundation Hosts Event on Veteran Employment & Cultural Awareness


On August 15, Santa Barbara County business owners and hiring managers gathered to learn about recruiting veterans for employment in the community. Why Hiring Veterans Makes Sense was led by Sara McNamara, MSOD, Consultant and Military Transition Strategist, who specializes in matching veterans with professional level job opportunities.

McNamara facilitated a discussion covering the challenges faced by veterans during the transition from military service to civilian employment. It was followed by a networking session where employers and veterans held conversations with one another.

“The goal of the session was to bring veterans, active-duty service members, employers and community leaders together,” McNamara said. “Our discussion was centered around increasing awareness and understanding about the military to civilian transition process, and how the cultural differences may impact veteran employment, retention and underemployment.”

Employers and veterans engage in dialogue
Veterans and employers during networking session

The Santa Barbara Foundation coordinated the event to address issues identified in the 2017 Santa Barbara County Veterans Needs Assessment. The report concluded that although veteran unemployment is low, there is a significant issue with underemployment. Veterans often accept positions for which they are overqualified, rather than being unemployed.

Further, employers value the discipline and work ethic that many prior service members bring, but are unaware of how to connect with the veteran community. Likewise, veterans often struggle with effectively translating military experience to the civilian job sector.

The event served as an effort to bridge this gap. During the networking session, employers spoke one-on-one with veterans and active-duty service members. It allowed for a unique encounter with the veteran community.

“This workshop with local employers was an opportunity to address military cultural competency and best practices for hiring and retention of veterans,” said Kathy Simas, North County Director of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “The added benefit of having veterans on hand to share their experiences augmented the robust dialogue.”

McNamara was delighted to see the enthusiastic conversation among participants during her presentation and the networking session.

“I was inspired by the engagement level of the participants during the workshop and the networking session at the end,” she said. “I’m sure meaningful connections were made that will keep the momentum going to support education and cultural awareness around veteran employment in Santa Barbara County.”

To learn more about the Foundation and the Veterans Needs Assessment, visit:

Related News