Luke Air Force Base contributes to Arizona’s workforce

The West Valley has seen steady growth over the past few years.

One of the biggest economic drivers in the West Valley has been around for decades — Luke Air Force Base, which contributes $2.4 billion to the local community.

“For over 70 years Luke has trained the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen,” Brigadier General Todd Canterbury told the Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC). “As we build to hosting 144 of the world’s most advanced fighter, the F-35, Luke will continue this legacy for years to come. We look forward to continuing to grow with the West Valley.”

But Luke Air Force Base has a talent pipeline that can feed into the workforce.

According to WESTMARC, more than 500 military members transition into civilian careers from Luke Air Force Base a year. Roughly 50 percent stay in the West Valley, most likely because of the municipal governments, military supportive environment and increase in employment opportunities.

Over the past few years, companies like Farmers Insurance, Vantage Data, Stream Data Center, Microsoft, REI, Amazon, Nike and other nationally known organizations are establishing or have established a presence in the West Valley.

Most of which have military-focused career paths. 

“We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Amazon partners with organizations such as Veteran Jobs Mission and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Hiring Our Heroes program. It has won multiple awards for being a best employer of vets.

Microsoft has a Military Affairs team that helps veterans transition to civilian life and “transform their lives” and Nike also has a Military Veterans & Friends Network. 

Transitioning military members may also want to stay in the West Valley because they are closer to a military base, which provides greater support. One way is through the base’s Military and Veteran Success Center (MVSC) that has partnerships with more than 40,000 veteran support organizations.

“Along with the center, our community is devoted to ensuring that service members, veterans, and their spouses are not only aware, but also utilize the rich veteran supportive resources that exist across Arizona and particularly among our west valley communities,” Kelly Mills, MVSC manager, said in a statement. “Once a service member separates from the military, 80 percent will not have access to on-base resources. The center will be open for all veterans to access these resources. Presently, we have an agreement with Luke to support the transition of every Airman separating over the next four years.” 

“This center offers a great opportunity for those who separate from the military to still have a connection to military life,” Second Lt. Zachary Neithamer, 56th Security Forces Squadron logistics officer, said in a statement. “It will set people up for the next chapter in their life. The best part is, the center will be there to help when your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you thought it would when making the transition.”

“The sooner we can support these individuals and understand their employment desires, the sooner we can match them with opportunities in the community and keep them in the West Valley,” Steve Yamamori, Reveille Foundation president, said to WESTMARC.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force by Airman 1st Class Leala Marquez

Emily Richardson

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