Hiring Heroes

There are those who make sacrifices to defend the United States and others countries.  After their years of service many veterans work towards entering the civilian workforce.  Veterans may face a number of barriers and challenges when discharged from their service.

Approximately 10.4 million U.S. veterans are working, and 5.5 million are living with disabilities.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics overall unemployment fell to 9 percent in January 2011.  However, the unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans was much higher in January — 15.2 percent — and a sharp increase from 11.7 percent in December and 9.4 percent in November, indicating a worsening job market for younger veterans, many of them combat veterans.[1]


From a veteran’s perspective, the military sets these men and women up for failure when they provide them with one job.  The service member may be told that their jobs will cross over into civilian positions only to find out that they do not. For example, a combat medic upon reentering the civilian workforce is considered an EMT-B.  To work as a medic in a civilian setting the medic will need to return to school.  When returning to civilian life there is some culture shock and disbelief that all the training and hard work was in vain.  The trauma and effects from their years of service can have an impact that creates an environment prone to depression and PTSD.

Leaders have a chance to make a difference for the service member in need of a job.  Veterans deserve the opportunity to go from surviving to thriving.  As a leader or business owner it is beneficial to understand the multidimensional struggle a service member goes through.  A civilian leader would benefit from understanding military culture, psychology, trauma, and disabilities.  Along with that, it is hard for the veteran to understand the lack of structure in the civilian workforce.  Learning and asking questions will help provide understanding of how to serve the service members.   “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  Galatians 5:13 (NIV).”

Service men and women are a great asset to any business.  Without stereotyping an entire group of people, typically their work ethic is scarce in the civilian culture.  Imagine being able to give back to those that were willing to give up so much for their country.  Veterans may become frustrated with the lack of structure, loyalty, and laziness in civilian companies.  Some companies have started creating board member positions for military members to represent the veterans.

In the degrees of trauma war is number one on the continuum.  Men and Woman serve this country and when they return tragically things are different.  At a recent training, Dr. Fox discussed a study about the children of mothers that were serving overseas.  They were interviewed about their mothers before deployment and after they returned.  The number one response for how mom was after she returned was, “cold.”  Service members may return wounded or alone, and continue to suffer from the trauma inflicted by combat.

As a leader it is important to realize that disabilities do not limit anyone’s potential.   “I see it as a gift, not a disability, I can provide the world with things that no one else can.”  Nick Vujicic, No Arms No Legs No Worries part 3.  Assisting employees that have disabilities whether they are psychological or physical can be an incredible asset.  A company can provide programs that will benefit veterans.

Be a leader that understands and implements programs to help veterans succeed in their jobs.   Leaders may achieve this success by helping the veterans overcome trauma by providing programs like play therapy, humor hour, and allowing therapy dogs at work. These are just a few of the programs that may help when providing opportunities for veterans, service members, and even other employees that have endured trauma.  A good leader can help make them rediscover their strengths and potential.  Nick Vujicic says, “The only limits you have are the limits in their mind.”  A quality leader can help them discover their potential and inspire greatness.


Nick Vujicic, No Arms, No Legs, No Worries! Part 1 & 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo_24_qTNac&feature=share&list=PL49FFBFCC923D4630


NickVujicic, No Arms, No Legs, No Worries! Part


[1] Wounded Warriors (2013).  Diversity Executive. Retrieved June 14, 2013 from http://www.diversity-executive.com/articles/view/wounded-warriors/3


Leave a Comment

  1. Nick says:

    As a disabled Veteran, I agree that we need to do a better job of taking care of these leaders upon their arrival. Even with military experience that has allowed me to find work, its with the government. I’m not complaining about that, its just that my point is without them I would be unemployed. Many conservatives will scoff at the government sector and I get it. But what many don’t know is the fact that most of us are Veterans.

  2. Cheryl says:

    As a parent, I can tell you it is a hard lesson in frustration when you watch your child fight through three deployments, but not be able to find work when she returns home from deployment. She is good enough to serve her country for many years, go to war for her country, watch numerous members of the military die for her country, but she can’t find a decent job because she is military trained. Her military training doesn’t even come close to what the civilian world is looking for in her field. My daughter is a firefighter in the AF, but in the civilian world she isn’t even close to being good enough to test for a firefighter position.
    She suffered from PTSD when she returned from Afghanistan in 2010. She’s since then been treated, but now that she is back from Kuwait and I believe she needs to be treated again. She is without a job, without an appreciable skill level, and is struggling to make ends meet. Life is not a bed of roses for our military members and I would be extremely grateful if any leader in any civilian company would take the time to look at these military members and realize their actual worth.


Comments are now closed for this article.