Honor Veterans With Jobs!

Let me begin this post by expressing my appreciation and gratitude to Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem for offering me the chance to be a guest writer on this well-established and respected blog. I am truly honored.

Have you noticed the preponderance of media outlets telling us that we need to hire military veterans? Have you read the suggestions for how to go about doing that? I have, and to commemorate the birthdays of the Air Force (September 18th), the Marine Corps (November 10th), and the Navy (Oct 13th), I would like to advocate for hiring a veteran. I don’t write that because it’s a patriotic thing to do or because the Federal Government is starting to push for more veterans in the workforce; I write it because hiring a vet is a sound business investment.

For purposes of this post, I will focus on the cohort of veterans who have served since 9/11 because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for this cohort is significantly higher than the overall unemployment rate. As of August 2013, the rates stand at 10% for vets and 7.3% for the general population. (It is worth noting that the unemployment rate for veterans of all generations stands at 6.2%. There are probably some lessons to be learned by studying those trends, but that is for a different post.) Aside from the technical skills and security clearances veterans bring to the table, there are five non-technical reasons companies should hire veterans:

1) They are quick learners. Veterans have experience learning and applying new concepts very quickly. All branches of the military teach new technical skills and concepts in a very short period of time. Most initial training is accomplished in under a year, and the higher level technical training takes no longer than 2 years to complete.

2) Strong Leadership Qualities. All branches differentiate between leadership and management, and they train everyone - from the most junior recruit on up - in effective leadership. Throughout their tours of duty, each veteran has been delegated responsibilities that are vital to helping the entire team accomplish a mission,

3) Commitment to the mission, and the ability to work in complex, fast-paced environments. Veterans have extensive experience working to complete a mission, regardless of the time it took, or the levels of stress and adversity they faced.

4) Respect. There is a saying in the Navy: All Navy Regulations Are Written In Blood. Veterans respect authority and have respect for policies and procedures. They understand the stability and structure policies and procedures bring. They also understand the potential catastrophic consequences of not following procedures.

5) Work well in a diverse work environment. Few businesses and organizations are as diverse as the branches of our military. Veterans have worked successfully with other personnel from all nationalities, gender and sexual orientations, and religions.

And these are just the five reasons that quickly come to mind; I could literally make this list pages and pages long, but, again, that’s for another post(s).

All veterans want to make valued contributions to the workforce, not unlike most civilian workers, eh? But because of the high number of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, along with those who have more obvious physical injuries, I think that some employers are nervous about how to make the workplace friendlier to their specific needs. It is, however, surprisingly easy to accommodate these individuals per the guidelines of The Americans with Disabilities Act. One of the easiest things to do is review a job’s requirements and determine the fundamental skills needed to be eligible for it; for example: Does a candidate need a Bachelor’s degree to be considered for an entry-level position?

So don’t be afraid to hire veterans, even wounded warriors. At the end of the day, every organization needs to hire qualified men and women who are enthusiastic to learn, improve themselves, and move the organization forward. Military veterans have proven themselves; you owe it to yourself to bring them in and allow them to compete for one of your positions.

Neal Henderson
FrontRow Performance Coaching

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