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Hiring Veterans – Mission Accomplished

Written by: Scott Burkey, US Marine, and SOLTECH Senior Project Lead

There are tons of articles on the web about the benefits of hiring military veterans. If you are a hiring manager you’ve likely thought about the advantages of bringing prior military service members into your organization. If you’ve never given it any thought, let’s take a look at a few of the common issues that business owners and line-managers tend to have that could potentially be addressed by hiring the proud men and women that have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Often times I will hear managers complain that their staff lacks the drive to see jobs through to completion. It seems that a lot of teams, and individuals, will come up against some late in the game resistance and use it as an excuse to put the project on the proverbial back burner. Sometimes staff will allow speed bumps to become roadblocks. Rest assured that the mission you put the veteran on will be accomplished. For the most part, it’s in the DNA of every woman and man that has served in the military to reach task completion. Period. In the military, personnel is conditioned to complete tasks that are put on them and they will bring this strong desire for success to the table at your company.

It seems these days you hear a lot of Gen X and Baby Boomers say that that the work ethic of today’s younger workers isn’t what it used to be. This is a whole other can of worms for another time. However, if you just look at military veterans of any age you will find that by and large, their work ethic is second to none. From my experience, having served in the Marines, most military branches breed a strong work ethic and it would be quite uncommon to have a veteran that didn’t exercise a strong work ethic.

Let’s talk for a minute about mental toughness. This, I truly believe, is what makes a veteran stand head and shoulders above most employees in the workforce today. With project deadlines looming, distractions in abundance and high stakes at play you’re going to need a veteran on the job. Of course, I’m partial to the Marine Corps training but I can attest that all of the military branches are in the business of training their members to be disciplined beyond what most of us see on a daily basis. Physical and mental toughness are the trademarks of somebody trained to defend our country. This toughness will bring value in innumerable ways to your company.

“I really need somebody to step up and take a leadership role.” You’ll have either one more good leader or one more really good follower with a veteran. Granted, not everyone in the military is a natural leader but many are trained in what it takes to lead others with integrity and character. Those who don’t lead a platoon or squad actually have many fine leadership traits from serving in an environment that is rich in strong leadership. I’ve been out of the military for over 25 years and I assure you that the best leaders I see in business are often times prior military.

If you believe that your staff doesn’t look after your company’s budget like they should you’re not alone. One more person will be looking out for your company’s budget and expenses if you hire a vet. I certainly feel like I learned how to operate on a tight budget in the Marine Corps. In fact, I’d find it difficult to believe that a veteran of any branch of the military is used to having an excess of money to fund their projects! It’s just a frugal environment in the United States armed forces. Getting by with less is a mainstay in the service.

You’ll also hear the truth when you ask a question to a man or woman with a background in the armed services. In the military, servicemen and women are more comfortable with having difficult conversations both up and down the chain of command. Often times in business, as you know, you need to surround yourself with a team that is comfortable with candor. Service vets have thick skin when you need to have a frank conversation with them as well. It goes both ways for veterans.

In full disclosure, hiring a veteran (especially a combat veteran) has its challenges as well. Re-adjustment to civilian life soon after a combat deployment can be a tough adjustment for a vet. In the civilian ranks, there isn’t the esprit de corps and camaraderie that they experienced in the military. Some of the rules are different and not always consistently stressed in the private sector. It can be frustrating but adjustments can be made both on the part of the vet and the employer. It happens successfully all the time. It’s happened for two of us that work at SOLTECH now!

Hiring a vet is not only good for your company culture and “the mission” but it’s often times a tax break as well. Plus, many vets will receive government funding to continue their education and that benefits your company as well. Well-trained, motivated, mature team members at your company that save you money are nothing but a good thing! Give the resume of a military veteran a second look and a chance to share their experience with you. You might be able to proclaim “Mission Accomplished!” as well.


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