Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast: DRS is Model Company for Being Military-Friendly
By Maria Sonnenberg // January 2, 2022
Leonardo DRS is sold on the idea of hiring vets
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard has been blessed with an ample supply of veterans ready to share their talent with local employers. The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast devotes considerable efforts to raising awareness of this valuable talent pool.
Companies such as Leonardo DRS are already sold on the idea on hiring vets.
“DRS is really a model company for being military-friendly and utilizing programs like Hiring Our Heroes and Skillbridge to recruit military spouses and transitioning service members,” said Brian Baluta, the EDC’s vice president of communications and partner relations.
Arlington, Virginia, based DRS, which employs 6,500 worldwide, has a workforce of 1,500 employees at its Brevard location located on Babcock Street in Melbourne.
The 24/7 facility is DRS’s largest in North America. The company is a leading technology contractor for the military and commercial customers.
The Melbourne facility specializes in the design and manufacture of electro-optical and infrared systems, land electronics and airborne and airborne and intelligence systems. A significant number of the Melbourne campus employees have a military background.
“A lot of them have used our products and they’re very focused on providing good products,” said human resources spokesperson Julia Williford.
Navy vet Tauhidah Tiffany sees her job as a DRS senior supply chain analyst as an extension of her military service.
“What it means for me as a U.S. Navy Veteran to work for DRS is the ability to continue to support our country,” said Tiffany.
“It is wonderful to work with many other people who are also veterans and have an understanding that we are a team working towards a common goal.”
A Department of Defense program that DRS often taps for military talent is Skillbridge, which enables service members during their last six months of military service to participate in unpaid internships at companies such as DRS.
The Hiring Our Heroes program also connects transitioning members of the military with prospective civilian employers.
“It gives them an opportunity to transition to civilian work and to gain hands-on experience,” said Williford.
Williford, a military spouse, knows first-hand how difficult it can be for vets to transition. Her husband, who enlisted at age 18, has been in the military for 18 years.
“I’m passionate about the topic,” she said.
Vets fill a variety of DRS jobs, from administration to manufacturing.
“We hire them all over the place,” said Williford.
Even throughout the pandemic, DRS continued to hire vets. Scott Tantius, a veteran of the Air Force had more than 23 years in the military but was concerned about transitioning during the pandemic.
“The uncertainly transitioning service members feel can be very stressful,” he said.
He need not have worried.
“Not only was I able to accept a position as a corporate recruiter with the DRS team in Melbourne just prior to my Air Force retirement, but the team and company values has caused me to pause and really be thankful as I realize I still serve my country, just in a different capacity!”
DRS further sweetens the deal with a sign-on bonus for vets, plus veterans resource groups and activities that honor vets while helping the community.
“I consider myself fortunate to have found a company that values veterans and invests resources in onboarding, career development and retention, rather than just recruitment,” said Army vet Diane Denton, now a supervisor of inventory control at DRS.