Of the 4.2 million veterans in America who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recently reported that 120,000 of them are without a job.
This group is the youngest of the nation’s veterans, and they’ve had a tough time finding employment since leaving the service. In October 2011, when the national unemployment rate was 8.9%, those post 9/11 veterans had an unemployment rate of 12.1%.
Since then, employment picture for these vets has improved significantly. As of last month, their unemployment rate was 3.6% on a not seasonally adjusted basis, which compares favorably to the national unadjusted unemployment rate of 3.9%.
Winning the Battle
The downtick is encouraging; employers have gotten the message that hiring a veteran is good for business. What is it that makes that so? Here’s a reminder about the benefits of hiring a vet:
- Excellent teamwork skills: Military personnel spend most of their time working closely with others. They bring an intrinsic understanding of how loyalty adds to productivity and builds trust with coworkers.
- Reliable work ethic: Work ethic may be difficult to gauge during an interview, but you can take it to the bank with veterans. They know the importance of adhering to a schedule and consistently performing well.
- Uncommon self-discipline: Vets have been trained to work toward efficiency, ask for guidance when needed, and exercise self-discipline in professional settings. They are also no stranger to working under stressful conditions.
- Global communication skills: Keenly aware of workplace diversity, vets understand that good communications also need to be flexible. Many military personnel speak more than one language, and have traveled extensively, making them more aware of the nuances of different cultures.
Join the Fight
If you read the previous list and started thinking you should look into hiring more vets, great! The VA Department can help. But what if you are already aware of the benefits, and already have a bunch of them working for you? Even better! You can show them how much you appreciate their unique skills in the workplace by recognizing them this Veterans Day:
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- Hold a pinning ceremony: Gather your vets together and hold a pinning ceremony, giving out pins that represent their service (i.e. US flag lapel, POW/MIA pins, military branch pins) and talking a little bit about their contributions to the workplace in relation to their military experience. The pins are not very expensive, and it’s a fun way to honor your vets while communicating positive core values to the rest of the workforce.
- Give a “Salute Package”: WeHonorVeterans.org has some great certificate templates for Veterans Day recognition themed to the branches of military service. Leaving a “Salute Package” on their desks with a small gift, a handwritten note, and a formal certificate is a classy way to give thanks if a formal presentation isn’t feasible.
- Increase veteran awareness: Some of your employees may not even be aware that they are working next to a vet, so make sure you do some sort of companywide communication that recognizes them. The more aware your employees are of the veterans working for you, the more apt they are to give extemporaneous thanks in the office.
By recognizing the contributions of veterans in and outside the workplace, you do a lot toward dispelling some of the myths associated with military service, while simultaneously making your office more inviting toward them. The military puts great importance on formal recognition, so recognizing the veterans who work for you shouldn’t be much of a stretch.
Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11th, and we send our best wishes to those stationed overseas and serving at home.