Need More Employees? Hire a Veteran

The military turns out well-trained and highly disciplined individuals who could be a tremendous asset to your company.

Need More Employees? Hire a Veteran

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Veterans Day is Nov. 11. To all the veterans, thank you for your service to our country. And if your company employs veterans, thank you for that. And if you haven’t already hired a vet, why not consider recruiting someone who has served in one of the military branches?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, every year 180,000 service members leave the military to transition to civilian life. About 32% of all veterans served post 9/11 and are in the prime working age group. Women are the fastest-growing segment, making up 7% of all veterans. While many vets are older, 50% of all those who have left the military are currently in the workforce.

So there is a big pool of candidates who could trade a service uniform for a work uniform in your business.

If you’re having trouble finding enough quality workers for your retail business — a message I consistently hear from company owners — veterans may provide the solution to your staffing shortage. They may not come to you knowing the steps to running the register or selling product, but you and your crew can teach those skills. What they bring to your company are many qualities that are more difficult to teach.

“In the past, employers said they sometimes overlooked veterans’ resumes because they weren’t sure how skills learned in the military translate to the civilian world,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, says in an article on veteran hiring by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). “We’ve learned, though, that when employers make the effort to train and when the returning soldiers receive the job search assistance they need, there is almost always a good match.”



What will you get when you hire a veteran? Sources at the Department of Labor and several groups that help to place veterans in the civilian workforce say this about these competent men and women:

Teamwork is their trademark. Working closely with colleagues and creating strong bonds of respect is essential for any military operation. And so it should be for your company. Serving our country, service men and women work in concert toward important goals every day. This commitment is something you may never be able to teach some of your employees, but veterans come hard wired with this critical skill.

They’re organized and disciplined. Veterans have lived 24/7 following strict rules about appearance and decorum. They know how to follow a routine and know that everything has its place. Imagine how this would help your company. If you ask them to report for duty at 6 a.m., they will be there. If you give them a handbook covering accepted procedures, they will learn and follow them.

You want that stockroom clean? Yes sir! Veterans are used to having every aspect of their work inspected and reviewed. Put them on a truck and that truck will be clean when you arrive at work in the morning and prepped for the next day when you leave in the evening.

Respect goes without saying. Service men and women are trained to honor the chain of command and treat everyone they encounter fairly and with respect. Working for your company, you can ask them to do the same. This goes for their interactions with your crew members, your customers and the general public. Don’t be surprised if a veteran’s demeanor expands your client list.

They will adapt, improvise and overcome. Members of the military are typically cross-trained to learn many skills necessary to meet an objective. They are required to adapt quickly to changing situations, think creatively under pressure and take charge when necessary. As your veteran employee, these skills will be welcome when they meet an unanticipated challenge in the shop.

They’re not afraid of hard work. Military missions can go on for days, weeks, months or years. Sometimes they are a matter of life or death. Conditions can be very difficult, and the work can be physically demanding and sustained. Put your veteran employee on a task and they will see it through.



With all of these positive worker attributes, SHRM reports it shouldn’t come as a surprise that unemployment rates have fallen steadily for veterans over the years. Veteran unemployment dropped to 3.7% in 2017, compared to 4.2% in the civilian population, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The member companies of the American Corporate Partners, dedicated to helping veterans transition to life outside the military, include many big names including UPS, Lockheed Martin, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Intel. These companies have hired thousands of veterans who make lasting contributions.

But despite the positive experience of many employers, the vast majority of larger companies lack veterans recruiting programs. Remaining hesitancy to hire veterans may come from misconceptions about their challenges adjusting to life after the military.

For instance, a survey by the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative showed that 40% of the public believes half of post-9/11 veterans suffer from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. However, only 10% to 20% of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced PTSD, according to RecruitMilitary, an organization that links veterans to jobs.

Duane France, a retired U.S. Army noncommissioned officer and clinical mental health counselor, addressed these concerns in a podcast with “Another potential misconception is that PTSD causes a veteran to be ‘unstable’ and ‘dangerous.’ This is also not true. As with any mental health condition, there are many factors to consider. Just because a veteran has a PTSD diagnosis doesn’t mean that they will be a workplace liability,” he says.

“PTSD cannot be cured, as it causes neurological changes in the brain. It can certainly be managed and the symptoms reduced both in frequency and intensity, but there is nothing that will totally eliminate the condition,” he continues. “PTSD is not a military condition; it is a human condition affecting roughly 8% of Americans.”




The Department of Labor can help your company find and hire veterans, and doing so might even net you tax credits and financial incentives for your veteran hires. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is one example. Companies that hire a veteran with a service-connected disability or who is unemployed or receiving food stamps may be eligible for this tax credit for each veteran hired. Also, veterans can seek reimbursement for costs associated with some work-related certification tests.

Veterans who want to join your team could also benefit from a Registered Apprenticeship program approved for the GI Bill. Veterans who are part of an apprenticeship program may qualify for a monthly stipend paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is in addition to wages they earn at your company.

More information, including contacts for regional Department of Labor offices across the country and assistance in posting jobs for veterans can be found at or emailing



While there are so many qualities veterans can bring to benefit your company, hiring a vet is also simply the right thing to do. This time every year we pause to appreciate the immense contribution military men and woman have made to our country. They’ve given of their time and talents to keep our families safe and preserve democracy. We should ask ourselves what we can do to help them after they put away the uniform. 



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