Many organizations and companies throughout the United States have programs in place to help them recruit and hire veterans. While it is sometimes assumed that veterans may have a difficult time transitioning into a civilian career, the reality is that hiring veterans helps organizations in many different ways. During their military service, veterans acquire many different skills and areas of expertise that can provide tremendous value to organizations in the civilian sector.
A study conducted by Syracuse University identified several valuable qualities that veterans can bring to a civilian workplace:
- They have been trained to plan for and deal with contingencies, and are skilled in working in different types of environments, from an office to being out in the field or on deployment
- They have more training in different types of advanced technology than their peers, and are skilled in a variety of fields and job duties
- They are resilient, and can perform well in situations where there is uncertainty and stress
- They have worked in diverse (and often challenging) settings, and are skilled at team building and being part of a team
- The ability to adapt and utilize the skills they have gained during their military service in the civilian sector
Many of the skills that veterans developed during their military service can translate well into a civilian organization. Some examples include:
- Veterans have already been employed in a culture where accomplishing a mission, personal and professional development, and cooperation with others is extremely important, so they bring those values to any role they take on
- Veterans gain leadership skills early on in their service, and those skills and leadership responsibilities increase as an individual advances through the military’s ranks. By the time they have transitioned into the civilian workforce, veterans are skilled and experienced leaders
There are also many intangible characteristics that make veterans excellent employees in the civilian sector:
- Veterans have already successfully completed rigorous military training, and are well-equipped to train for other roles
- Veterans are able to work efficiently within an organization
- Veterans are able to handle stressful situations and stay calm under pressure
- Due to their previous training and experience, veterans are able to learn and take on new responsibilities quickly
- Veterans can bring a great deal of diversity and a variety of skills to an organization
While many military jobs are very specialized, many of the skills that veterans develop during their service can be utilized in the civilian world, and veterans’ training provides them with knowledge on a wide range of topics. Veterans have strong leadership skills, and are trained to lead by example. Veterans are also skilled in providing direction and motivation, as well as delegating tasks Veterans are able to work independently, or as part of a team. The military instills a sense of responsibility to colleagues, so veterans are well versed in the importance of teamwork and cooperation.
In addition to these skills, veterans make excellent employees for several other reasons:
- They are able to work well with others. Teamwork is essential to both safety and getting the job done in the military, and that sense of cooperation can translate well to a civilian role
- Veterans have a sense of duty, and take responsibility for getting their work done. They also hold themselves accountable for ensuring their job is done well
- Veterans are confident in their abilities and skills
- Veterans have a good sense of discipline, and are very organized
- Veterans have a strong work ethic, and understand the importance of ensuring their job is completed; they also have a good ability to follow through, even when circumstances are stressful or challenging
- Veterans are able to adhere to schedules and rules, while also being able to be flexible and adapt to rapidly changing situations
- They are able to think critically, and think creatively (and quickly) to solve problems
- Veterans are able to work cooperatively with various groups to accomplish tasks, and to coordinate with others to solve problems both in familiar and unknown situations
- Veterans are independent and resourceful, and are more likely than their non-military peers to start their own businesses; these traits can also help existing businesses grow and be successful
- Veterans receive financial assistance to pursue higher education. When companies hire veterans, they are gaining employees who have the opportunity and resources to learn and improve while on the job, thanks to continuing their education
- Veterans have strong personal integrity, and abide by a Code of Ethics. Many veterans have security clearances, proving that they are trustworthy and capable of handling highly sensitive information
In addition to all of the professional skills veterans can bring to an organization, there are also financial incentives that employers can receive when they hire a service member who is transitioning into a civilian role. These include:
- Special Employer Incentives Program: This program was developed by the VA to help both veterans, and the employers that hire them. Employers who participate receive reimbursement of half of the veteran’s salary for six months, as well as the cost of equipment, uniforms, and other supplies
- Communities can receive federal funding to hire veterans in organizations such as law enforcement, state and national public lands, and fire departments
- Companies that hire veterans who have been disabled during their service, or who are transitioning out of the military can receive federal tax credits
Hiring veterans can also show other organizations that a company understands and values the contributions that veterans can make to the workplace. In a study of employers that hired veterans, one workplace mentioned that since the military is one of the most trusted institutions in the United States, hiring veterans also brings that trust and good reputation to the companies they work for.
Ultimately, when companies hire veterans, it is beneficial not only for the veteran employees, but their employers and coworkers as well. Veterans’ previous military experience has given them the tools to be excellent leaders, cooperative teammates, and an overall asset to any organization that they are a part of.
Heather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.
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