As a veteran, I appreciate your kind words.
To your point on hiring, I would like to add that It is important to understand the transition that veterans are undergoing when they enter or return to the civilian work force.
Aside from the legal and moral obligations to employ returning veterans, there is a third, vital challenge in the employment transition equation: understanding the vast difference between the military and civilian work environments. The expectations of both parties must be carefully assessed and communicated with realistic processes for effective transition from military to civilian employment by the veteran.
A transition partnership between the veteran and the company is necessary. Expectations must be adjusted to reflect the differences in both venues.
Military core values such as – oaths, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a culture of direct command, and a narrow focus on the task at hand are no longer available when the veteran leaves the military.
In the civilian environment political correctness, strategic group awareness, tact, organization factors, and a broad view of mission and achievement are required.
A veteran is therefore is not so much entitled to a job as he or she is entitled to be understood, and to be allowed to understand the civilian job environment, growing into it.
Professional Roles are Vital
There are two important types of professional roles to consider when hiring and managing military veterans in the business venue.
As a veteran who made the transition to civilian professional work and ultimately owned a small enterprise, and as a counselor who supports veterans in becoming business owners, my experience over several decades indicates military men and women do well in Role 1 below. They have the most challenges with Role 2.
Role 1 Technical - Scientific, engineering, logistics, electronics, design and similar skill sets where direct supervision, team building, corporate policy compliance and human resource planning and utilization are not major factors.
Role 2- Management - Functional process capacities responsible for hiring, evaluation, supervision, compliance with civilian law and department activities involving group dynamics, customer relations and sensitive human factors.
I came out of the military having had a leadership role in engineering, base development planning and combat support. I served in war zones in Southeast Asia and on highly classified missions. I was not a manager. I was a military leader in specialized skill sets under Role 1 above.
I knew how to direct people who followed orders without question because the Uniform Code of Military Justice to which we swore an oath said they must do so.
I felt uncomfortable in jobs involving Role 2 above because they were foreign to me. I later adjusted, learned the venue and became skilled as a manager in the corporate world. I preferred staff assignments, however for most of my career.
The corporate venue seemed enormously political and bureaucratic to a former war fighter like me. I was not that tactful. I cut to the chase often and did not always take everyone with me when I made a decision.
Once I grew into a Role 2 performer, I found in interviewing, hiring, evaluating and managing young veterans, even seasoned ones, who had retired and joined the civilian work force, that almost all were better suited for Role 1. It took years and effort on my part to fit them into Role 2 and some never made it.
Management Analysis and Moving Forward
The principal reason for the logic conveyed above is that the military environment may seem to be structured in a way that fits Role 2, but the military does not turn out individuals who are suited in the knowledge and experience necessary in the civilian environment and they are not very good at it without extensive training and adaptation.
Enterprises have multiple-faceted challenges and they require multiple- faceted people. Even though individuals may hold a specific position job title, success in the civilian work force demands avenues where the human resource can contribute in multiple ways.
If a contributor has experience and training in several areas the business can utilize, that makes him or her a valuable resource and it is likely they will be professionally fulfilled and rewarded from doing so. Military personnel have specialty training and focus; few have a wide view of what is in front of them, particularly with respect to military vs. civilian professional settings.
In fairness to veterans and to our hopes for them in the future, we must understand these above distinctions, build on Role 1, understand the risk in Role 2 and assist wherever possible.Above all, a respectful partnership and realistic expectations must evolve between the veteran and the company for success in transitioning former military personnel into the civilian work force. This must be achieved through education, training, communication and assessment of both the veteran and the company personnel.
Thank you for your service, for your continued dedication to helping those who have served for our freedom, and for sharing your thoughtful and well-written post in this thread. You raise so many great points, I hope everyone will take the time to consider your insights when they hire veterans.
Another way to help veterans is to help their families while they are still deployed. How can we be sure we're providing the support a military spouse may need in the workplace? What types of special considerations might need to be taken into account?
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I appreciate your kind words and on my reply.
I had the privilege to assist in the original development of "Army Wives.com", a real inspiration focused on family support services to active duty and deployed soldiers. It was founded by two active duty army personnel who remained army wives to soldiers at their discharge.
The site has a full time radio show with tremendous information targeting those you mention in your comment.
Thank you, Ken. What a great resource. I appreciate your contributions to this thread.
On Memorial Day, we reflect on the sacrifices made by those who serve to protect our freedoms. Many companies offer hiring priority to veterans. Some companies sponsor events to remember and and pay respect.
On this weekend, and all year, how does your business acknowledge veterans' contributions? Do you have special hiring practices? Have you held events, or offered special pricing on Memorial Day weekend? Do you offer a military discount year-round?
However you spend your time, have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.