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Supporting Our Veterans

Extending a Helping Hand to Veterans Joining the Workforce

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Rosett

Today, you will find fewer veterans in the American workplace than ever. While this is largely because of our all-volunteer force and the dramatic decline in the share of the U.S. population with military experience, it means that employers have to work diligently to ensure that today’s highly skilled veterans are placed effectively within their organizations.

Valuable skills

At the Bob Woodruff Foundation, we see the efforts of corporations playing out day in and day out: Quite simply, it is good business to hire veterans. I not only have the privilege of seeing this in action via the veterans our partner organizations work with, but also personally, as I work every day alongside tremendously dedicated colleagues who have served our country. The skills they developed in the military — such as leadership, resilience, fast and accurate decision-making, operational focus and the drive to accomplish a mission — have made them great employees, and they add to the bottom line.

Harnessing their “can-do” attitude, veterans today are also better educated than even the generations who served before them and blazed the path with the GI Bill: 75 percent of post-9/11 veterans listed educational benefits as a reason for joining the military, compared to 55 percent of pre-9/11 veterans. According to Student Veterans of America, veterans are more likely to graduate college and to have higher GPAs than non-veteran students.

For all the value they bring to the workplace, veterans can also face substantial challenges when transitioning into civilian life. In particular, to improve hard skills they may not have developed during their service, they need on-the-job training. Congress’s recent vote to adjust and modernize the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which includes incentives for veterans to enter STEM fields, will help. But it’s also critical that we continue to make available to veterans educational resources that are dedicated to closing their skills gaps. This will ensure that veterans can participate in the expected boom in manufacturing and skilled trades jobs.

Roll call

Here’s a small sampling of a wide spectrum of offerings, some specific to locations and others to industries. One such industry-specific organization is Veterans on Wall Street, which promotes career development and retention throughout the global financial services industry. Another is Workshops for Warriors, which trains, certifies and helps place veterans, wounded warriors and transitioning service members into advanced manufacturing careers. (These careers not only dovetail with veterans’ unique skill set but with the reality that, after serving in intensely physical capacities, not every veteran is interested in working a desk job.) Veterans interested in information technology can explore tech fundamentals training through the NPower program, available in Texas, California and New Jersey. The program provides veterans with 15 weeks of free, in-class instruction, seven weeks of a paid internship and the opportunity to earn an advanced certification, apprenticeship and job placement.

Veterans employment nonprofit Hire Heroes USA offers broad assistance across industries to military members, veterans and military spouses. And organizations such as the Warrior-Scholar Project are dedicated specifically to easing veterans’ transition from a military culture to a college campus culture. At top-tier college campuses across the United States, the nonprofit hosts free, immersive, academic, summer boot camps designed to boost veterans’ confidence before they start college.

As we look for ways to honor those who have served on our behalf this Veterans Day and beyond, I urge you to consider not only the valiance of their past but also how to improve the quality of their future.

Anne Marie Dougherty, Executive Director, Bob Woodruff Foundation, [email protected]

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