Ten reasons manufacturers should hire veterans

“As Americans celebrate Veterans Day this month, we honor all who have sacrificed to make peace and stability possible. We pay tribute to every proud American who has worn the uniform and served our country,” President Donald J. Trump told troops stationed at the Yokota Air Force Base in Japan.

There was no other place he’d rather visit first during his 11-day trip to Asia, he said.

“You make it possible for peace-loving nations to thrive and peace-loving people to prosper. You are the reason the great American flag will stand behind me wherever I go,” Trump said, wearing a flight jacket presented to him before his speech.

“And every time I look at that flag, I think of brave men and women like you. And I will think of all the American patriots down through the generations who poured out their blood, sweat and tears, hopes and dreams to defend our country…”

Indeed. Trump’s comments expressed the hearts of grateful Americans and American allies worldwide.

Between the years 2003 and 2019, over 4.3 million veterans are expected to return to the states after service to the United States. Between 2014 and 2016, from 65 to 80 percent of those veterans said in surveys they were leaving the military without a job, expecting to find meaningful employment quickly.

But for many, finding those good jobs has been tougher than they anticipated. Brown University’s “Costs of War” study found veterans having a difficult time transitioning back into civilian life because of the “soft skills” they acquired in the military that don’t seem to fit today’s civilian workplaces.

As hard as it may be to believe, those “soft skills” that veterans bring with them from their military experience, such as persistence, reliability, conscientiousness and attention to detail, can also be barriers to successful civilian employment, the study said.

When surveyed, veterans themselves noted that their military identity (characterized by the imperative to be punctual, professional, and respectful to people in authority) makes it difficult to adapt to civilian workplaces, where they perceive these behaviors to be undervalued. At the same time as veterans rejected civilians’ lateness and lack of deference to authority, they reported feeling rejected by civilian employers, whom they perceive as dismissive of military skills and experience, or unaware of and insensitive to the needs of veterans. More extreme still, when surveyed, over a third of post-9/11 veterans said they thought prospective employers believe that veterans are dangerous or “broken.”

Manufacturers say that it isn’t unusual for a veteran to keep his or her service time off their resumes, fearing it could inhibit potential employers from hiring.

But in contrast to those concerns voiced by those blending back into civilian life, many effective manufacturing leaders and members of the Technology & Manufacturing Association are themselves veterans.

Harold Karbin and his wife founded Lexco Cable upon his return from fighting in the Korean War. Marty Wiegel was called away from a U.S. Navy ship to serve on the home front at his family’s business when Marty’s father, who founded Wiegel Tool Works, suffered a debilitating health emergency.

J.R. Hommer served in the Marines before coming home to join his dad’s Hommer Manufacturing. And Pro-Mold & Die’s David Long was called off a military training exercise in Germany to start an apprenticeship at TMA.

They are just a few of the many manufacturers that came home from fighting battles abroad to lead the industry. Supporting veterans’ efforts to connect to civil employment is as good for the country as it is for the nation’s economy. In a circulated brochure on the topic, Alcoa Foundation and the Manufacturing Institute list ten strong reasons manufacturers should consider hiring veterans:

1. Veterans accelerate the learning curve

Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they can enter the workforce with identifiable and transferable skills.

2. Veterans practice teamwork 

Veterans understand how genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues. Military duties involve a blend of individual and group productivity.

3. Veterans are proven leaders

The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation, and inspiration. Veterans understand the practical ways to manage behaviors for results.

4. Veterans promote diversity and inclusion

Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion, and economic status as well as mental, physical, and attitudinal capabilities.

5. They perform well under pressure

Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources. They have developed the capacity to know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress.

6. They have respect for procedure

Veterans have a unique perspective on the value of accountability. They can grasp their place within an organizational framework, becoming responsible for subordinates’ actions to higher supervisory levels.

7. Veterans are attuned to global and tech trends

Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry.

8. Veterans have integrity

Veterans know what it means to do “an honest day’s work.” Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances.

9. They’re conscious of health and safety standards

Thanks to extensive training, veterans are aware of health and safety protocols both for themselves and the welfare of others. On a company level, their awareness and conscientiousness translate into protection of employees, property, and materials.

10. They are triumphant in the face of adversity

In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, veterans have frequently triumphed over great adversity.

And if all those characteristics aren’t enticing enough to pursue veterans to fill vacancies, federal tax credits are available to many employers that hire qualified veterans. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) ranges from $2400 to $9600 for each veteran hired.

“Like your predecessors, you, brave warriors, are the last bulwark against threats to the dreams of people in America and Japan and all across the world. You are the greatest hope for people that desire to live in freedom and harmony and you are the greatest threat for tyrants and dictators who seek to prey on the innocent,” Trump told the troops in Japan.

He then concluded, saying, “History has showed us over and over that the road of the tyrant is a steady march towards poverty, suffering and servitude. But the path of strong nations and free people certain of their values and confident in their futures is a proven path towards prosperity and peace.”

From Technology & Manufacturing Association’s Nov-Dec 2017 News Bulletin