Hiring veterans is good for business

WTU Force Structure Actor Tom Skerritt meets with Asst. Secretary of U.S. Navy Manpower and Reserve Affairs Robert L. Woods and U.S. Marine Corps Col. Mitchell Cassell during the 2017 Veteran and Wounded Warrior Hiring Summit in Seattle, Wash., May 23, 2017. (Photo Credit: Corrie Poland, Warrior Care and Transition)

By Corrie Poland, Army Warrior Care and Transition

SEATTLE, Wash. - Did you know that many veterans find successful careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related fields due to their highly technical training in the military? Or, were you aware that the veteran unemployment rate is 3.7 percent as of April, a 10-year low? For employers who attended the first day of the 2017 Veteran and Wounded Warrior Hiring Summit, these tidbits of information were just the beginning of what they would learn about veteran hiring and success.

Approximately 150 employers from across all sectors gathered in Seattle, WA on May 23 to hear top business and military leaders speak about why hiring veterans is good for business and what it takes to recruit and retain veteran talent. "Veterans are trained to care deeply about the success and failure of the team," said Vice Admiral Paul A. Grosklags, Commander of Naval Air Systems. They bring innovation, a sense of urgency and the ability to triumph over adversity, he explained.

During panel discussions held throughout the day, senior representatives from Starbucks, BAE Systems, Microsoft, Amazon and more discussed some of the strategies their companies utilize to ensure veterans and wounded warriors thrive in the private sector. "Hire on attitude and aptitude," noted Chris Davidson, Veteran Recruiting and Warrior Integration Program Manager of Talent Solutions at BAE Systems, Inc.

"Give veterans leadership skills they can use in all areas of their lives," added Matt Kress, Senior Manager of Veterans and Military Affairs at Starbucks.

Actor Tom Skerritt, Co-Founder of The Red Badge Project, spoke about how storytelling can help wounded warriors rebuild their sense of purpose and identity. For those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression, sharing their inner struggles through a creative narrative can make all of the difference, he said. "You have so much more than you think you have. Each one of you is special."

Many private sector employers have developed veteran and wounded warrior recruitment and training programs to bring in military talent. Operation IMPACT, a partnership between more than 85 companies, provides personalized career transition support to severely wounded, ill and injured service members. Through a network of private sector employers, non-profits and federal agencies, veterans are matched to positions and provided job training, mentoring and workplace accommodations. "We can't do great things in a silo; it takes a village," said Karen Stang, Manager of Operation IMPACT at Northrop Grumman. By collaborating with federal, non-profit and private sector organizations, holding workshops and training employers, more than 85 percent of the program's veterans have been hired.

To learn more about hiring veterans and wounded warriors, visit: http://wct.army.mil/modules/employers/e1-hireOurSoldiers.html