MUSCATINE, Iowa–When Shane Sawyer finished his career in the armed forces, he experienced firsthand the difficulties of transitioning to civilian life: the loss of his support system, a clear sense of purpose, and an important part of his identity. Fortunately, Sawyer found his way to IowaWORKS, where he now serves as a veteran career planner, helping other veterans find meaningful work and connect with like-minded people. As a part of IowaWORKS in Davenport, Sawyer has organized successful Quad Cities Veteran Network events, holding casual, drop-in opportunities for veterans to meet with employers eager to hire them. Because Sawyer lives in Muscatine, and IowaWORKS in Davenport also serves Muscatine County, Sawyer wanted to expand opportunities for veterans here. Focused on that goal, he organized the first Muscatine Veterans Network, scheduled for Aug.10 at the Missipi Brew (107 Iowa Avenue in Muscatine) from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
To make the Muscatine Veterans Network successful, Sawyer has contacted regional businesses to invite them to send representatives. Businesses have proved interested in participating, with well-recognized local companies like KENT Corporation planning to attend. On the evening of the Muscatine Veterans Network, Sawyer encourages veterans looking for jobs to come in smart casual clothing if possible and, “come ready to talk about yourself and ready to talk to employers who are hungry for veteran employees.”
Sawyer values veterans’ networking events for providing a lower-stress environment than a traditional job fair, allowing veterans to comfortably talk to employers face to face and have a good first interview before even applying to work at a company. “The beauty of a veteran networking event is it takes away the preconceived pressures of a job fair,” he explained.
By working with community partners such as Mayor Brad Bark, the Muscatine County Veterans Affairs Commission, the Seventh Iowa Judicial District, and Goodwill, Sawyer wants to Make Muscatine a destination city for veterans because of all the opportunities for them. as Sawyer works to grow more local supports, he invites veterans to attend IowaWORKS seventh annual Success Fair at Saint Ambrose University Aug. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. as well, as it will feature the area’s largest job fair specifically for veterans and their family members that also welcomes members of the general public.
If veterans have additional questions about the upcoming Muscatine Veterans Network or other services available through IowaWORKS, Sawyer encourages them to contact him by email or by calling him at 563-445-3200 ext. 43307. He also encourages people to visit the IowaWORKS website for fast information about all its services available to job seekers in Muscatine and beyond.
Since moving to Muscatine, Sawyer has found he loves the community and believes it has much to offer other veterans like himself. “This place is a gem; I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he enthused. By hosting events such as the Muscatine Veterans Network, he wants to see the community continue to welcome veterans with open arms. “I’m hoping that the community embraces it,” he said.