KINGSPORT - Serving in the Army could lead to a civilian job at Eastman Chemical Co., thanks to an agreement signed Thursday between the two long-term partners.
Eastman, a chemical, plastics and fibers maker based in Kingsport, becomes the first chemical maker to join the Partnership for Youth Success. Known as PaYS, the program trains soldiers for civilian jobs while they are still in the active military.
The agreement means that an estimated 10 percent of the 150 to 200 operator jobs available at Eastman in the next few years will be filled by Army veterans, said Norris Sneed, senior vice president of human resources, communications and public affairs for Eastman.
"That (PaYS) gives the soldiers priority in the employment process," said Col. Norvel L. Dillard, deputy commander of the U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Brigade based in Fort Meade, Md. Dillard is responsible for recruitment from East Tennessee northeast to Maine.
Sneed, during the news conference at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center, said former military members make excellent employees because of their character, work ethic and personal discipline.
"We must bring on a new generation that is able to compete in a global economy," Sneed said. "The military is an outstanding source of talent for the future."
Eastman last year announced that it expected to hire 5,000 employees from 2006 through 2010 just to replace employees who retire.
The PaYS program focuses on the chemical operator jobs but could include other jobs, Sneed said after the news conference.
Eastman becomes the 218th PaYS partner, which also include BellSouth, Caterpillar, HCA, EDS, Lockheed-Martin, Sears Logistics Service, State Farm Insurance, John Deere Co., Pepsi Bottling Group, Goodyear, Dell and Southwest Airlines.
It works like this: Enlistees interested in gaining specific job training and qualifications will receive that training while in the Army.
The recruits interested in PaYS sign a statement of understanding of their interest to work for Eastman or other choice of partners upon completion of their Army service.
"As they near the end of their enlistments, the soldiers will have the opportunity to interview with Eastman for a specific job at a specific location," according to a news release from Eastman. "The process is intended to take a participant from citizen to soldier to veteran to career employee."
Eastman jobs are scheduled to be available to the PaYS database soon. For more information, interested applicants can visit their local recruiter or log on to www.armypays.com.
Collectively, the PaYS organizations have loaded more than 672,000 positions onto the database for regular Army soldiers and more than 174,000 positions for Army Reserve soldiers.
The regular Army program has more than 40,000 soldiers enlisted in PaYS as part of enlistment incentives, and the Reserve program has provided an enlistment incentive to more than 6,800 Reserve soldiers.
Sneed and Dillard said the formal agreement mirrors years of cooperation and working together, dating back to pre-Eastman days during World War I when George Eastman came up with more efficient and better ways to make chemicals and photo paper and continuing when Eastman ran Holston Ordnance, which once cranked out 1.5 million pounds of explosives a day. BAE Systems now has the contract to run the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport.
For more information on Eastman go to www.eastman.com.