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Military veterans have unique skills. This agency can help translate those skills into jobs

When Florida Army National Guard Specialist Sebastian Bennoon ran into roadblocks finding a civilian job three months ago, he turned to the veteran employment team at CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion in Ocala.

The team’s efforts helped him land a job. That is a win for him, his employer, and for the team at CareerSource CLM.

The upcoming 11th annual Paychecks for Patriots Job Fair held by CareerSource CLM aims to help more veterans like Bennoon find the right civilian employer match for their skills.

The fair will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Marion County Public Library Headquarters, 2720 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala. More details at the end of this story.

Sebastian Bennoon of Ocala, an avionics technician, is a military veteran who works for University Air Center at the Gainesville Reginal Airport. CareerSource CLM helps veterans like him translate their skills into good civilian jobs.
Sebastian Bennoon of Ocala, an avionics technician, is a military veteran who works for University Air Center at the Gainesville Reginal Airport. CareerSource CLM helps veterans like him translate their skills into good civilian jobs.

“I was looking for a job in law enforcement to help people," said Bennoon, 21, of Ocala, a guardsman trained as a 15N avionics mechanic.

Bennoon started his civilian job Sept. 25 working as an avionics specialist with University Air Center at the Gainesville Regional Airport in Gainesville. His job includes maintaining aircraft used for medically related missions.

The stated annual salary for the position is $43,000, according to CareerSource CLM.

Bennoon was born in Orlando, raised in Marion County and graduated from Dunnellon High School in 2022. He served as a full-time guardsman from April 2022 to July 2023.

His military training as an avionics mechanic involves “maintenance on tactical communications security, communication, navigation and flight control equipment” troubleshooting and diagnosis,” according to nationalguard.com.

Bennoon now serves as a guardsman on weekends and two weeks in summer.

Sebastian Bennoon of Ocala at work on Oct. 31 at the Gainesville Regional Airport.
Sebastian Bennoon of Ocala at work on Oct. 31 at the Gainesville Regional Airport.

He began to seek a civilian job in July. When he ran into obstacles, a sergeant suggested he consult with CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, which has a team of veterans devoted to serving fellow veterans.

Laura Byrnes, director of communications for CareerSource CLM, explained some main points of the job finding programs available to veterans.

“Members of the Veterans Program are veterans themselves and understand the unique skills, focus and dedication service men and women bring to the workforce. Priority of Service includes consultation with a Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER), Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist or Career Development Coach,” Byrnes stated in an email.

“One-on-one services include skill and interest assessments, help securing funds for training or retraining, information about the local labor market, resume and interview preparation, and job search support, referral, and placement,” she wrote.

“(Bennoon) was referred to our Career Center by a veteran who had been helped (and) met initially with Henry Ayala, U.S. Army, retired, our local veterans employment representative and one of our career development coaches, Ana Hernadez, to receive Priority of Service,” Byrnes wrote.

“With Hernandez’s help, Sebastian successfully applied for the position at UAC and he’s loving it,” she stated.

Charvon Jones, a disabled veteran outreach program specialist at CareerSource CLM, also works with veterans seeking jobs.

According to data provided by Byrnes, in 2022, CareerSource CLM provided 3,280 veterans services; served 550 individual veterans; and provided services to 178 veterans who were later hired.

Meanwhile, Bennoon is working with UAC Avionics Supervisor and Air Force veteran Chris Phillips and team member Noah Green to keep the avionics equipment in tip-top shape on aircraft owned or maintained by UAC.

This includes the red-white-and-blue Cessna Grand Caravan Life South aircraft that shuttles blood products to an Atlanta laboratory and points throughout the southeast every night “except Thanksgiving and Christmas,” and a sleek white charter Learjet used by UF Health Shands Hospital and Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville to transport organs.

The work at UAC involves maintenance and upgrades to critical flight controls for navigation, instrument landings, autopilot and more and cluster panels, which may cost upwards of $100,000 in some aircraft.

Diagnostic work is important for the avionics technicians at UAC. Phillips said logic and the ability to “read schematics” is important.

Bennoon likes the challenges.

"I enjoy it. It makes you think (and you encounter) something new every day,” Bennoon said. He said his military career has rooted him in “discipline and accountability,” which he brings to his new job at UAC.

“This is a great environment (at UAC) and the people are great mentors,” he added.

University Air Center Chief Operating Officer Debbie Frederick.
University Air Center Chief Operating Officer Debbie Frederick.

UAC Chief Operating Officer Debbie Frederick said Bennoon ”presented well” at his interview and now “fits right in” at the company.

Frederick said UAC serves the Gainesville airport as the fixed-base operator, “pumping all the fuel for commercial, general aviation and military aircraft.”

"Additionally, UAC operates a flight school, an air taxi service, and a maintenance shop and an avionics repair station. We take care of our fleet of 22 aircraft as well as customer aircraft,” she stated. The company has openings for airframe and power plant mechanics.

Frederick said the company is “veteran friendly” and praised the veterans who work for UAC.

“Veterans have character and align with our company values. Their work ethic is excellent and they have a high level of professionalism,” she stated in an email.

If you go 

The Paychecks for Patriots job fair will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Marion County Public Library Headquarters, 2720 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala. Register in advance at bit.ly/HIRINGHEROES. For more information about Paychecks for Patriots or CareerSource CLM’s year-round Veterans Services, call 1-800-434-JOBS (5627), ext. 2225.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: CareerSource CLM can help veterans find jobs

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