TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event Wednesday to help recruit and retain military members who are retiring from service.

What You Need To Know

  • Veteran unemployment was 2.8% to start the New Year, up from a low of 2.5% in 2023
  • Operation Partnership is a program run through the Tampa Chamber of Commerce to help veterans transition into civilian life

  • The event started Wednesday morning at the Tampa Chamber’s downtown office, 201 N. Franklin Street

  • More resources: Helping Servicemembers Transition Back to Civilian Life

Operation Partnership will help pair employers, service members and veterans with vital opportunities as they transition from military life to civilian life.

Shae Gee served for more than 30 years in the Air Force, retiring in February as MacDill Air Force Base’s Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 6th Air Refueling Wing.

“I did six years as a military training instructor bringing civilians in,” said Gee. “I got to yell and it’s pretty cool to be able to yell at work and not get in trouble.”

Gee is now working in a much quieter space in human resources at Tampa International Airport.

In her role, she oversees several employee issues, ranging from administration staff to employees on the flight line.

Although the job requirements seem tailored to her military service, the work environment is starkly different from her time in the Air Force.

“I joined right out of high school, so I feel like I am graduating right out of high school all over again, to learn how to be a grownup. No one is telling me you have to do X, Y and Z. I have to make the choices, where I want to be, what I want to do, what does it look like?”

Those stresses aren’t unique to Gee.

Thousands of military members at MacDill leave the service every year, and for each lies a challenging transition into civilian life, where a road map isn’t clear.

Tampa’s Chamber of Commerce is hosting Operation Partnership to help bridge that gap, and help veterans find their way into the Tampa community.

“Really focus on career exploration, so helping that service member understand the industries that are here in the Tampa Bay market and what our local economy looks like," said Katie Lopez, Vice President, Member Engagement at the Tampa Bay Chamber.

Operation Partnership started at 8:30 a.m. at the Tampa Chamber’s downtown office, 201 N. Franklin Street.

For more information, visit Operation Partnership: Transition Tampa Bay.