Why hire a veteran?

Nearly 240,000 Gulf War era II Veterans are unemployed in the US as of September 2012

by Melissa S. Gresham on 12 November 2012 14:09

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.4 million people are considered Gulf War-era II Veterans, meaning they served in Afghanistan or Iraq following the 9/11 attacks. Of this group, and as of September 2012, 9.7 percent are unemployed (eight percent men and 19.9 percent women). 

Last year the total unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II Veterans was 12.1 percent. While the rate is trending in the right direction, it is still higher than the national average at 7.9 percent.

When I transitioned out of the military, I was flooded with information available regarding programs, workshops, and benefits. However, I found this information to be dated and not applicable to this generation of veterans. The Gulf War-era II Veterans have experienced a different war and have acquired exceptional skills they can easily utilise in any work environment. The problem lies in the translation.

Only one percent of the American population has served in the Gulf War-era II. This population surrounds the military bases and remains partially isolated from the majority of the civilian population throughout their military career. This disconnect has led to the misunderstanding of veterans. This generation is determined, innovative, and possesses specialised skills that promote strategic growth, increase productivity, decrease operating costs, and create a positive work environment with high morale.

The basic building blocks to soldier progression are based on promptness, professionalism, teamwork, and adaptability in addition to instilling values such as integrity, honor, sacrifice, and selfless service. These are all character traits that are needed in any organization, but soldiers bring leadership qualities and management styles that are unique to their military background.

Entry level positions are seeking candidates that will simply show up on time, follow procedures, and meet their required performance standards each day. These are merely work ethics that are found in any soldier. Veterans are more advanced than the basics.

Gulf War-era II Veterans are more educated and have a higher aptitude. Advanced military technology has been introduced in this generation and veterans are well-qualified in operations planning, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

Soldiers are trained to be results oriented and their performance will either save or jeopardize lives. This experience brings a distinctive leadership skill that is not found in most applicants.

Top leadership qualities outlined by Revenue Journal and Business News Daily include initiative, self-confidence, giving clear direction, displaying good judgment and decision making, promoting self-esteem and motivating personnel, facing and solving problems, and purposeful communication. Veterans of this era have all deployed, several times, and exercise these qualities in their daily operations.

Finally, servant leadership is a quality that is valuable in any sector, public or private. Servant leadership is natural in the military; it is the quality that brings veterans to be in the one percent of Americans who serve.

As a CEO, President, Owner, or hiring manager, I ask you to look at this generation of veterans for leadership roles within your organisation. Veterans do not want handouts or favors; they want opportunities to utilise their skills for a purpose. The one percent of Americans who volunteer to be servant leaders for freedom needs more understanding from the other 99 percent.

If you understand a veteran and bring them into your organisation, you are getting a dedicated leader that will be one of the greatest assets to your company.

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