U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 18.2 million veterans currently live in the United States. This makes up about 7.3 percent of the population, and nearly one-third of these veterans have a service-connected disability that can complicate their path to a post-service career.
But these complications aren’t necessarily a stumbling block for employers. According to a 2016 study, nearly 75 percent of employers who have hired disabled veterans believe it has been a positive experience for their company.
In spite of these numbers, a recent survey in The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation found that nearly 60 percent of veterans with disabilities transitioning to the civilian workforce feared discrimination in the hiring process because of their disability.
“The reality is that many of America’s businesses, big and small alike, recognize the importance of hiring veterans with disabilities but often don’t know where to begin,” said Jeff Hall, national employment director for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). “Nearly 4 million Americans have a service-connected disability. In addition to boosting diversity and inclusion efforts, these veterans can bring some very unique skills and values to any employer’s team.”
The Veteran Advantage
To address this need, DAV has published “The Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring & Retaining Veterans with Disabilities.” This free, comprehensive guide is the result of more than four years of study about what the veteran community contributes to the workforce and how hiring veterans, especially disabled ones, can positively impact a company’s bottom line.
“As an association created by and for the military community, hiring veterans and military spouses has been a long-standing commitment for USAA,” said John Bird, senior vice president of Military Affairs at USAA and a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral. “In fact, more than 20 percent of our 35,000 employees are spouses and veterans. We recognize and value that they bring a tremendous work ethic, leadership and technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and loyalty to any workforce.”
The publication offers best practices and helpful tools for employers, but it goes further, helping to correct misperceptions and inspire more organizations to hire from this talent pool. Content includes statistics about veterans with disabilities, in-depth onboarding and retention strategies. a practical checklist for employers, and explanations of financial incentives, tax credits, and other support.
Prepared for a pandemic
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has forced employers and job seekers alike into new territory, but adaptability has always been one of the hallmarks of veterans — something that makes them particularly attractive to companies.
“Whether you’re transitioning out of the military and looking for a new career, or you’ve been out of the military and are looking for something new, it can be a very daunting and stressful task,” Hall said. “This mission is made much, much more difficult in the face of a pandemic. While our nation’s veterans, particularly those who have been injured in service, are faced with unique challenges, they also offer the skill sets, loyalty, and dedication needed to help successfully power America’s economy.”
DAV is currently offering virtual events to job seekers and employers during this unprecedented time to help ensure there is no lapse in the availability of career resources, opportunities, and support for veterans and their spouses. Visit jobs.dav.org for a complete schedule and to learn more.