BJA 2023 Spotlight, Michigan

Darrick Alvarez serves as a Recruiter for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). He is a twenty-three-year veteran of the agency with a master’s in criminal justice administration from Ferris State University. Darrick served for eight years in the Army Reserves and has been instrumental in helping MDOC build its veteran recruitment efforts.

In 2015, Darrick worked to gain approval from the training council to accredit the Joint Services Transcripts (JST) of veterans to count as the required fifteen college credits for MDOC employment. This was only the beginning of major veteran initiatives that aided in recruitment.

Operation Excellence for the Military (OpEx) was created to recognize the over 2,000 veteran employees at MDOC with a service coin and recognition at graduation ceremonies. The Military Advisory Committee (MAC) was formed to help keep up with new veteran initiatives for recognition during deployments and special functions during Veteran’s week. Women veterans were also given special recognition and celebration within the department. The agency partnered with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) to assist current and future veteran employees of MDOC to have access to benefits.

Challenges presented in the recruitment of veterans are primarily related to the constraints of government in comparison to private sector hiring initiatives. Another challenge Darrick noted is that many veterans are hesitant to self-identify. Ways to overcome these barriers are to continue to adapt and overcome, change with the climate of employment, learn best practices, and look for ways to remove barriers and implement positive policy changes.

Darrick says the agency has come a long way, and it is all thanks to the Director and the administration, who are passionate about supporting veterans. Because of this, MDOC has become a leader in the state of Michigan on veteran hiring. In 2021 the MDOC was labeled a gold-level veteran-friendly employer.

Darrick said, “I’m just a small part. Our veterans and administration make this happen.”

We congratulate Darrick Alvarez and the Michigan Department of Corrections on their successful innovative training and recruitment initiatives to better prepare and support staff long-term.