Hero’s Welcome … in the Workplace

A friend’s recent LinkedIn post grabbed my attention and resonated with me, both personally and professionally.  My friend is among 30 professionals who received recognition as a Military Veteran Executive.  He credits his career success to many lessons learned in the Army, citing the fact that few civilian experiences require the same level of teamwork, or mental and physical fortitude.

My father was a member of The Greatest Generation; he served in WWII having enlisted in the Marines right out of high school.  In my family, a grandfather, two uncles, and cousins also served our country in various branches of the military. My friend’s LinkedIn post reminded me of the many lessons my father shared with me about how his time in the Marine Corps shaped his life.

These days, the news is constantly filled with stories of the chronic labor shortage.  How often do employers think about what an amazing and qualified source of talent our former veterans can be?  As HR professionals, we readily see the breadth of competencies and experiences this talent pool offers:

  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Strong work ethic 
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Honesty, integrity, and attention to detail.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 18.5 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 7% of the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 18 and older. Further, the Armed Forces see more than 200,000 U.S. service members return to civilian life each year. 

Employers such as JP Morgan Chase, Walgreens, Boeing, and Home Depot all have hiring programs for veterans. While many smaller employers might not have such targeted programs, recruiters can consider resources both locally and regionally that offer programs to help veterans transition from serving our country to civilian work life. 

Just few programs are:

  • Hiring our Heroes
  • Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW)
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has training videos for HR professionals on its website.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes job fairs offer in-person training for HR and hiring managers. 
  • The Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Foundation has developed the Veterans at Work program to provide HR professionals, people managers and business leaders with proven educational content and resources, at no cost, to learn effective ways to reduce barriers and stigmas affecting the employment of veterans and their families.
  • The Foundation also offers a Veterans at Work Certificate Program education program that focuses on best practices to attract, hire, and retain veterans.

    This Veteran’s Day let’s go beyond the “Thank you for your service” and find tangible ways to honor their service by creating ways to welcome them into the workplace.  I don’t know about you, but I sure think a few more veterans in some logistics jobs might help us with some of our supply chain issues!

    Jenny Willcox

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