MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH: The importance of Veterans’ Hiring Initiatives

I grew up in the military. My dad served for 23 years, and we moved around every 3 years throughout my childhood. It was a really good life, filled with amazing people and places, and I credit my outgoing nature to that life. We’d move to a new post, and I’d go knocking on our new neighbors’ doors, asking if any kids lived there, and if they did (they almost always did), I’d ask them to be my friend.
The hardest thing about my childhood was saying goodbye to good friends when it was time for them, or for us, to move.

That’s nothing compared to the difficulties military service members and their families face today. We’ve been involved in armed conflict on multiple fronts continuously for almost 20 years. Families face multiple deployments in the modern military, and many returning service members struggle to assimilate back into civilian life.

We’ve all read the statistics about veteran suicide rates, and divorce rates among military families are higher than the already high national average. It’s a difficult life, but most military families wouldn’t change a thing about it because it’s their duty to serve, despite the personal sacrifices required to do so.
With very few exceptions, most individuals in this country support our military, even if they don’t agree with the conflicts they find themselves in, which is a welcome change from the sentiment the country expressed towards Vietnam veterans, like my dad, upon their return home. But we can all do more. We can do more individually; there are so many ways to help, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction there.

But we, as business people, need to impress upon the leaders of our companies how important it is to support our military families with veterans/military hiring initiatives. Many returning service members and their spouses struggle to find work despite amassing incredible skills while serving our country. Most hiring managers, however, aren’t focused on what these individuals can bring to their organization and, instead, focus on the words on the resume that don’t appear—at first glance—to fit. Veterans positively impact a company’s culture, are natural problem-solvers, and set the standard for teamwork and work ethic.

Particularly relevant in our industry, where there is a marked shortage of talent, and construction shows no signs of slowing down, so that shortage will continue to grow unless we look for other sources of talent. Several large companies in our industry have recognized this and have implemented focused veterans’ hiring initiatives and are reaping the benefits of those efforts now.

Related Companies Senior Vice President Frank J. Monterisi, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Veteran, leads his company’s veterans hiring initiative. He recognizes that veterans:

are very valuable to our company and the overall construction industry. The men and women who come out of serving our country have dedication, a strong work ethic and are exceptional problem solvers—which are great attributes to have when working on construction projects. Construction projects are all about teams and working together. Veterans have great teamwork and can manage through demanding environments with efficient real-time, problem-solving skills. We are happy to bring them on and will continue to keep this hiring initiative as a key priority for our organization.

“The Benefits of Hiring Veterans,” US Veterans Magazine.

Jim Crigler, Vietnam Veteran, Partner of HC2 Capital, and author of “Mission of Honor,” an account of his trip canoeing the entire length of the Mississippi river to raise awareness about Gold Star Families, is a huge proponent of veteran hiring. “If you want leadership under stress, hire a veteran,” Jim said.

Only about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in our military. These are the men and women who keep the rest us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make our country great. The debt we owe them can never be fully repaid, and we need to honor and support them every day, not just on a few patriotic days of the year. They’ve done their part; it’s time for us to do ours.

For more information about setting up your own veterans hiring initiative, check out:
http://hr.commerce.gov/Careers/Veterans/index.htm
https://www.dol.gov/veterans/Employer-Guide-to-Hire-Veterans-DEC-2017.pdf
https://www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw/