Thank you for paying your taxes!
That’s my response to people who thank me for my service. As a combat MEDEVAC pilot, I’ve seen heroes with my own eyes, so it’s easier to deflect the unwarranted praise than it is to accept it. I understand that many Americans still want to say thank you. I know how you can thank me.
Hire my friends!
It’s simple. Give them a chance at the American dream they put on hold. Less than 7% of the US has served, down from 18% in 1980. Now let me tell you why your patriotism should be your last consideration when hiring veterans.
Veterans are better educated than nonveterans. 37.1% have completed an associate’s degree. 27.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Many more have advanced skill training equivalent to the best trade schools and apprenticeships available. Vets are expected to be familiar with safety processes, supply chain management, communications and computer literacy, so they are comfortable interfacing outside of the position you hired them for. Lastly, veterans are continuously trained in leadership and interpersonal communications via professional schooling, formal mentorship and stressful environments.
Veterans are diverse. Colleges and universities struggle to fill their incoming classes with students from different walks of life. Military recruits are quite diverse, both economically and socially. Women make up over 8% of the veteran population and that number is rising precipitously as jobs previously closed to them open up. Minorities account for over 22% of the military and over 20% of them are young, between 17 to 34 years old. Veterans are significantly more likely to have interacted with people from dissimilar backgrounds than their civilian counterparts. Also, the military has traditionally been the testing ground for many social reforms that seek to level the playing field in the workplace. Vets are supportive of equal opportunity measures and anti-harassment workplace policies. In fact, every military unit is required to employ full-time representatives for these important issues.
Veterans are self-starters. Nothing like the stress of combat and support operations to make you take your job seriously. Here’s just a couple examples. The plane captain with her name on the side of that $66 million dollar Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jet, who’s responsible for everything on it and its safety, is probably 19 years old. That Army AH-64E Apache helicopter pilot could also be 19. They thrive on structure and teamwork, essential qualities for entry level employees. They already know how to adapt, how to think outside of the box and how to work with little to no supervision. Your big client meeting next week? I’m pretty sure most vets who’ve been “downrange” have experienced far more stressful things in the past. So now you’re offering them a safe job, with no mandatory ruck marches and decent pay? Yeah, it is a no brainer when you put it that way, I agree..
Veterans earn you tax credits for training and hiring them. Got a great internship position? DoD SkillBridge will pay a veteran to train with you for a few months if the training could lead to a job. You’re just not allowed to pay the vet! Want a break on your business taxes? Over 50% of veterans will earn your business a hiring tax credit of up to $9,600! Got a job opening that requires special training or education? Programs like COOL, WIOA, Veteran Readiness & Employment and the GI Bill can pay for most any type of job training. Many more often untapped grants and programs exist at the federal and state levels. Retired vets also have their own health care, saving you additional funds. It literally pays to hire service members!
Lastly, you want to hire vets because you’re patriotic. We love you for that! It’s easy for vets to feel lonely, misunderstood or out of place. The fact that you haven’t forgotten us means more than you know. We have a great sense of loyalty to your leadership and your commitment to helping us move on to the next phase of our lives. You’re continuing the mission of taking care of my friends. I recently asked one of my favorite leaders, General David Petraeus, to summarize his feelings on what vets bring to employers. “I think that service in uniform, especially during particularly challenging missions in combat, leads soldiers to look beyond an individual’s race, creed, gender, color, orientation, etc. and focus on professional skills, physical endurance, mental toughness, courage, and fortitude, among other qualities and attributes.” Great insight from a great leader.
Now it’s your turn to lead us.