BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Mike Minogue is a decorated veteran and also president, chairman and CEO of Abiomed, a company that makes the world’s smallest heart pump.
Turns out, Minogue has a big heart when it comes to helping returning veterans land a job in the medical technology field.
Last week, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in the second annual camp for veterans interested in entering the field. Minogue is chairman of the program.
In 1991, he was a 23-year-old Army platoon leader with the 24th Infantry Division that moved into the Euphrates River Valley, inflicting heavy damage on Iraqi forces.
When Minogue, a West Point graduate, got out of the Army in 1997, he was able to take part in programs to help him find a career. He even wrote a letter to former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch (a Salem High graduate), looking for a job.
The note led to a job at GE Healthcare, where Minogue, an engineer, was attracted to working with the MRI division. That launched a successful career in the medical technology industry.
But not every veteran has the same success story. There’s a critical need to find jobs for the 150,000 returning veterans entering the workforce, he said, noting that the unemployment rate among veterans is 15 percent.
Over the years, Minogue has been involved in a number of efforts to help veterans. A few years ago, he wound up at an event in Washington, sitting at a table with some “wounded warriors,” discussing their difficulty getting back into the workforce, he said.
“They were telling me they were having a hard time finding anything,” Minogue said. The veterans would often be competing for jobs with people who’d gained experience in a field while the veterans were in the service. And often, the civilian applicant with experience got the position.
“It was very frustrating for these guys to go through that,” he said.
Being the head of a leading medical device company, Minogue said it occurred to him there must be a way for the industry to help out. Now, the Medical Technology Veterans Program (known as the MVP) shows veterans how to translate their military skills into civilian ones and add them to their resumes. It teaches them interviewing skills. It sets up a way for veterans to network with other veterans in the medical device industry. And — a key part of the program — it pairs each participant with a mentor in the medical device industry who provides coaching and support for a full year.
More than 35 companies have signed on to the initiative, and about 15 veterans from across the country took part in the boot camp last week.
There is also an online portal for veterans interested in a career in the medical technology and diagnostics field, Minogue said. Veterans can learn more by going to http://www.MedTechVets.org/.
The efforts to help veterans are coming at a time when Abiomed, located at Cherry Hill Drive, appears to have a healthy outlook itself, despite overcoming some obstacles in the past year.
Hospital use of the company’s Impella pumps — mini, catheter-like heart pumps that support blood flow and allow the heart to rest and recuperate — has grown rapidly. About 775 hospital sites use Impella pumps now, up from 568 in November 2011.
In the past 18 to 24 months, the company has created more than 100 jobs at its headquarters in Danvers. Of its 500 employees, 260 work in Danvers.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.