Hiring Veterans: What You Need To Know
With the Veteran’s Hospital located in Waite Park, the Greater St. Cloud Area has a large population of military veterans. Some area employers look at this population and wonder about the possible implications of hiring former and active military members, oftentimes carrying with them misconceptions about what it means to be a veteran.
This section will begin by addressing several of the many benefits veterans bring to the workplace, before moving on to disprove some of the most common myths regarding veterans in the workplace.
The Competitive Advantage of Veterans
Each year, there is a large amount of military veterans re-entering the civilian workforce. It is important to keep in mind that veterans represent a diverse group of talent; the main takeaway for companies is that veterans are extremely apt when it comes to learning new skills, especially in stressful situations. This learning curve benefits veterans, as well as companies, in the fast-paced and constantly changing business environment. Although there are many benefits to hiring veterans, there are five main advantages to hiring veterans:
1. Veterans Possess Leadership Skills
American corporations are constantly building and developing leaders from within their own company. Veterans’ time in the military has equipped them with great leadership skills, since many veterans were thrust into leadership positions at a very young age. Additionally, veterans possess a big picture understanding and have impeccable attention to detail. Moreover, veterans are able to stay composed – and creative – while under pressure.
2. Veterans are Extremely Adaptable to Changing Situations
Embracing change is necessary in the fast and ever-changing business world. Veterans have experienced rapid change firsthand; there were numerous new forces and changing environments that veterans had to face on a daily basis.
3. Veterans Have, or Can Attain, Great Educational Skills
The government provides financial assistance to veterans pursuing higher education. By hiring a veteran, companies ensure that they have an employee who is willing to improve their work and add to their skillset through continuing education initiatives.
4. Hiring Veterans Creates Tax Benefits For Employers
Employers can receive around $4,000 as a credit from the federal government for hiring a veteran. Benefits vary, depending on the length of time a veteran has been with an employer. For more details, click here.
5. Veterans Provide Low Workplace Turnover Rates
Veterans possess a team player mentality. Companies that have a strong employee onboarding and assimilation program tend to have the greatest success with the veteran workforce and see a lower turnover rate compared to the overall employee rank and file.
Common Misconceptions Regarding Veterans:
Myth: Vets Have Been Trained to be Mindless Drones
Unfortunately, some employers believe that the military has broken down soldiers and that training and discipline given in the military lead men and women to be unable to think for themselves.
In reality, the training one learns in the military is set to get soldiers thinking about the mission or the group as a whole, and that is what makes the military work so well – many people working toward one common goal.
Soldiers are taught teamwork; taught to get the job done. This requires thinking on their feet and sometimes coming up with a creative solution on the fly. Not to say every soldier is good at quick problem-solving, but to think of soldiers as mindless order-following drones is most definitely not correct.
Myth: Veterans are Mentally Unstable
Many veterans get asked questions like, “Are you sure you’re okay with this” or hear, “I know you’ve seen things” in working environments. It’s true, some vets struggle with PTSD or a number of other illnesses or traumas related to their service, but not every vet.
The reality is that vets are just as likely to be emotionally unstable as anyone else. They may struggle with depression, PTSD, or other issues, but so does everyone.
Myth: Vets Act Inappropriately
Employers don’t want to hire someone who cusses like a sailor on permanent leave and sometimes use it as an excuse to shy away from vets. They see current and former military members as they see R. Lee Ermey in "Full Metal Jacket". The reality is that most vets are not the foul-mouthed, tattoo-covered chauvinistic men we see in Hollywood movies.
Admittedly, the culture of the military is a foul-mouthed one. Realistically, however, a vet is least likely to curse or act out when it is inappropriate. They know and have been taught when to be respectful and when to relax. Most are aware of when to alter their speech - perhaps even more so than the average civilian.
Myth: Veterans are Aggressive
Some may think twice about hiring a vet because they perceive vets to be more aggressive or trained to only commit acts of violence. Most often, this is based on paranoia and false perceptions of the military. Actually, a very small percentage of service training revolves around using weapons in a combat situation.
Most service men and women work toward a specialization – a trade skill, essentially. Not all roles are geared toward work after the military, but very few are geared specifically toward combat. Again, aggression varies in vets just as much as it does with everyone else.
Myth: Veterans Should Be Held To A Higher Standard
Military personnel are often expected to be superhuman and methodical about tasks and strict behavior. In the broad sense, military men and women are hard-working and efficient compared to civilian workers, but that effect is cumulative, not individual. A disciplined force of people is bound to work more efficiently than one which is allowed to lag. Just like in any other circumstance, some take to the routine and discipline of the military naturally, while others only did because the military required it of them. Some people enter the service as lazy and unmotivated as anyone, and are whipped into shape while enlisted on because there were people to pressure them to do it.
Veterans overall are just as likely to be motivated post-military as anyone else.
In today’s market, there seems to be an inflated standard for hiring vets. Service men and women should be considered with the same amounts of scrutiny and acceptance as anyone else. Hiring a vet is just like hiring anyone else; sometimes you hit the employee jackpot, sometimes you want to explore other options. When you think about it, if you are looking for someone who is a team player, can handle long hours, tight deadlines, stress, and travel, who would be better to choose than a veteran?
To learn more about what it means to hire a vet, check out some of these PSA's from The Dixon Center: