By: Brian Herbert
Source: Indy Star – Business Section – Sunday Jobs
While the modern military is composed primarily of young men and women in their late teens and 20s, in recent years a greater emphasis is being placed on citizen soldiers. While this can create challenges for veterans to find meaningful employment during and after their service, the tide is changing as more companies recognize the positives of hiring American veterans.
“Companies are seeing the benefits of hiring veterans thanks to their leadership skills and work ethic, which is leading to more employers looking to hire veterans,” said Bob Strange, Hero 2 Hired’s employment coordinator in Indiana.
The U.S. Department of Defense knows the value of the veterans it employs. When service members transition to civilian life, the government wants them to find success. Hero 2 Hired is a department program specifically designed to help reserve component service members, veterans and their spouses find meaningful employment in civilian settings.
The Hoosier State has a large veteran population – bigger than many other states. More than 500,000 current service members and veterans live in Indiana, even though there’s no active-duty installation in the state.
“Indiana has long been committed to citizen service, as evidence by the fact that we have the fourth-largest National Guard in the country, even though we rank close to the 20th in the country for overall population as a state,” Strange said.
Strange works with the large veteran population to help them find employment during and after their military careers. More companies are hiring veterans for their unique skills and values.
“The No. 1 think I hear from employers is that when they hire a veteran, they know they will show up on time, work hard and have leadership skills that often see them climb the ladder faster,” said Strange.
Indianapolis-based Monarch Beverage Company is seeing the benefits of recruiting veterans and their spouses. Since launching a recruiting initiative called Join Our Forces, the company has increased veteran hiring by 37 percent, and that number should grow. Kate VanDePutte, HR Generalist, said veterans possess the skills Monarch employees should have to excel.
“Veterans are team-oriented, adaptable, great decision makers and have integrity,” VanDePutte said. “We are always looking for the best talent to join our team, and veterans display the qualities we’re looking for when we are searching for the best.”
Many veterans have been hired by Monarch as truck drivers. Strange noted that the transportation industry regularly recruits veterans, many of whom are trained in the military to drive trucks and heavy equipment.
Schneider, a national transportation and logistics company, regularly recruits veterans as drivers.
“Schneider has been committed to hiring military personnel since the very beginning because the company knows veterans are hard workers and natural leaders,” said Rob Reich, senior vice president, himself a U.S. Army veteran. “More than one in five drivers hired this year has military experiences.”
Despite efforts of companies like Monarch and Schneider, veterans often are underemployed when they first separate from military services. Organizations such as Hero 2 Hired are bridging the gap. Strange spends his time helping companies advertise job openings to veterans, and he works with service members. Services available to veterans include resume-writing advice interview tips and career counseling services,
“Eighteen to 27 year olds are the biggest population we serve, and they have the greatest needs transitioning from military to civilian life, Strange said. “Many of them joined the military right out of school so they don’t know about career opportunities or how to construct a resume.”
Strange said he enjoys helping veterans discover valuable career fields when they leave the military. In Indiana, he finds the transportation, manufacturing and health care industries among the largest employer groups actively hiring veterans.
“Many employers in health care, logisitcs and intelligence industries look to hire veterans because of the skills and training they already have,” Strange said. “These skills provide instant value to employers over hiring new employees with no experience.”
Veterans transitioning to the civilian job market in Indiana will find many employers ready to attract them. As the military continues to draw down the active-duty ranks, more veterans will seek out the many opportunities offered through the state.