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As an employer, have you ever considered the extraordinary blend of skills, resilience, and dedication that veteran employees can bring to your workplace? 

According to a study, over 200,000 service members transition to civilian life each year, armed with unique experiences and capabilities. These heroes, who have served our country with unwavering commitment, are now navigating the terrain of the civilian workforce. 

A question arises: How can we welcome them into our professional family and provide the support and encouragement they need to flourish? 

This blog post offers a roadmap for creating a workplace where veteran employees' talents are recognized and actively cultivated. Let's explore!

1. Understand military culture

Service members undergo a unique journey marked by discipline, teamwork, and a strong sense of duty. Understanding the values that define military life, such as loyalty, respect, and integrity, lays the foundation for effective communication and collaboration. Employers should recognize the significance of rank and hierarchy in the military, as these elements influence how veterans approach teamwork and leadership in a civilian setting.

Moreover, acknowledging the impact of military service on personal and professional development is crucial. Veterans often possess unparalleled problem-solving skills, adaptability, and resilience, traits cultivated in diverse and challenging situations. By recognizing and appreciating these attributes, employers can harness the full potential of their veteran workforce.

Do you know that Boeing is one of the top employers for veterans? 

It has a workforce boasting over 20,000 veterans, accounting for approximately 15 percent of its employees. Boeing doesn't just talk the talk. It walks the walk when supporting the military community.

But what sets Boeing apart? 

It's not just about numbers; it's about tangible support. Take their military skills translator, for example. It helps veterans and service members match their military experience to suitable jobs at Boeing.

Boeing's commitment to veterans goes beyond recruitment. They have invested over $30 million annually in veteran organizations and initiatives. One standout partnership is with the USO's Pathfinder program, which is designed to empower transitioning military service members with comprehensive employment readiness skills.

But that's not all. Boeing goes the extra mile for its veteran employees, offering recovery and rehabilitation programs tailored to address PTSD, mental and physical injuries, and suicide prevention. It's clear: Boeing isn't just an employer; it's a champion for the military community, ensuring veterans feel valued, supported, and empowered in their civilian careers.

2. Create a veteran resource network 

This network serves as a dedicated space where veterans can connect, share experiences, and access resources tailored to their unique needs. The network provides a valuable support system beyond the professional realm by facilitating a sense of community.

Within the veteran resource network, consider organizing regular events or workshops that address specific challenges faced by veterans in the workplace. This could include sessions on effective communication styles, stress management, or even financial planning. 

Encourage open dialogue where veterans can discuss their experiences, seek advice, and offer insights to their peers. By promoting a culture of collaboration and understanding, the network becomes a platform for veterans to navigate the transition from military to civilian life seamlessly.

For example, BAE Systems implemented the "Warrior Integration Program," an internal initiative designed to support wounded warriors in their employment, transition, education, and career advancement. This program encompasses a Veteran Mentorship Program wherein veteran staff members offer guidance to wounded warriors and their families as they transition to civilian life.

Moreover, this network can act as a bridge between veteran employees and the broader organization. This connection ensures veterans' unique perspectives and skills are recognized and actively integrated into the company's culture and decision-making processes.

Employers can demonstrate a genuine commitment to supporting their veteran workforce through this network, fostering a workplace where everyone feels valued and understood.

3. Provide training and skill translation

Transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce can be challenging for veterans. While their military experience equips them with a diverse skill set, there can be a gap in understanding how these skills seamlessly transfer to a corporate setting. 

Employers can bridge this gap by implementing training programs specifically designed to assist veterans in translating their unique skill sets into terms that resonate in the civilian job market.

Moreover, employers can collaborate with organizations specializing in veteran employment transition programs. These partnerships can provide additional resources and expertise in helping veterans navigate the nuances of the civilian job market. 

Intel demonstrates its commitment to supporting military veterans by boasting that a notable seven percent of its workforce in the U.S. is composed of former service members.

Through initiatives aimed at translating military expertise into versatile skills applicable across diverse sectors, Intel fosters an inclusive atmosphere where veterans can thrive. 

From roles spanning manufacturing, business, and finance to cutting-edge fields like information technology, system-on-chip design, and software development, Intel ensures veterans find meaningful opportunities to contribute their unique talents.

4. Ensure inclusive benefits packages

Veterans often face distinctive challenges, including potential physical injuries or mental health concerns resulting from their service. In response, employers should review healthcare offerings to ensure comprehensive coverage catering to these needs.

This may involve collaborating with healthcare providers to tailor plans that address the medical and mental health aspects associated with military service.

Inclusivity in benefits doesn't stop at healthcare. Employers should also consider financial benefits that recognize the unique financial challenges veterans may face during their transition to civilian life.

This may involve offering financial planning assistance, retirement savings plans, or VA mortgage loan options. By tailoring benefits packages to veterans' specific needs, employers acknowledge their service and actively work to ease their transition into the civilian workforce.

With a robust array of benefits and dedicated hiring initiatives, Merck ensures veterans are valued from recruitment to retirement. Offering specialized pay and comprehensive benefits during active duty, the company's commitment extends beyond mere lip service. 

5. Flexible work arrangements

These arrangements can include remote work, flexible hours, compressed workweeks, or part-time schedules. By offering flexibility, employers demonstrate an understanding of the diverse responsibilities and commitments that veterans may have outside of their professional lives.

Remote work options, for example, enable veterans to manage medical appointments, attend to family obligations, or address personal matters without sacrificing productivity or job performance. This flexibility can be particularly valuable for veterans dealing with service-related injuries or disabilities, providing them with the autonomy to work in environments that best suit their needs.

Booz Allen Hamilton, situated in the heart of the nation's capital and neighboring areas of Virginia and Maryland, is an outstanding example.

They offer flexible work arrangements like telecommuting options, flexible hours, and remote work opportunities in various fields, including consulting, technology, and engineering.

Established by a former service member, the firm boasts a robust veteran community within its ranks.

Flexible hours and compressed workweeks allow veterans to tailor their work schedules to accommodate appointments with healthcare providers, therapy sessions, or other commitments. This flexibility empowers veterans to balance their work responsibilities with their personal lives, reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being. 

Additionally, part-time schedules allow veterans to gradually reintegrate into the workforce while managing any transitional challenges they may face.

6. Veteran hiring initiatives

These initiatives involve targeted efforts to recruit, hire, and support veterans as they transition from military to civilian careers. One key aspect of these initiatives is participation in job fairs specifically tailored for veterans. It’s a place where organizations can showcase career opportunities and engage directly with transitioning service members.

Additionally, partnering with military transition programs and organizations dedicated to supporting veterans' employment can significantly enhance the effectiveness of hiring initiatives.

These partnerships provide access to a pool of talented individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, resources, and support services to foster a smooth transition into civilian roles.

By actively engaging with these programs, organizations demonstrate their commitment to supporting veterans and contribute to broader efforts to reduce veteran unemployment rates.

Moreover, advertising job openings through veteran-specific channels, such as military job boards or veteran-focused career websites, can help reach qualified candidates who may not be actively searching through traditional recruitment channels.

Clear communication of the organization's commitment to hiring veterans and fostering an inclusive workplace culture further reinforces the message of support. As a result, it encourages veteran candidates to consider opportunities within the organization. 

In 2011, JPMorgan Chase & Co. embarked on a mission to honor and serve the veteran community by establishing a dedicated Office of Military and Veteran Affairs.

Since then, their commitment has been nothing short of remarkable. They've welcomed over 14,000 veterans aboard, extending a hand not just in employment but also in providing over 1,000 mortgage-free homes to veteran families through partnerships with nonprofits.

One of their standout initiatives involves teaming up with Onward to Opportunity, a program from the Institute for Veteran and Military Families at Syracuse University. This collaboration offers free career training, certification, and employment opportunities. It has attracted more than 30,000 veterans seeking to transition smoothly into civilian careers.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has also played a pivotal role in founding the Veteran Jobs Mission, a powerhouse collective comprising over 200 companies. This formidable alliance shares a common goal: to hire one million veterans.

Beyond just recruitment, they're dedicated to fostering engagement and career growth for veterans within the private sector, ensuring that their skills and experiences are utilized to the fullest extent possible.

7. Recognition and appreciation

Beyond mere acknowledgment, genuine appreciation reinforces the value of veterans' contributions and sacrifices to the organization.

Regularly highlighting their achievements, whether through public ceremonies, personalized notes, or inclusion in company-wide communications, demonstrates a commitment to honoring their service.

Moreover, recognition serves as a morale booster, instilling a sense of pride and belonging among veteran employees.

Feeling appreciated motivates them to continue excelling in their roles and actively contributing to the organization's success.

By publicly celebrating their accomplishments, employers validate veterans' efforts and inspire others to recognize and respect their unique perspectives and skills.

Additionally, personalized gestures of appreciation, such as acknowledging significant military milestones or commemorating Veterans Day, demonstrate a genuine understanding of veterans' experiences and the significance of their service.

These thoughtful gestures go beyond surface-level recognition, forging deeper connections and fostering a sense of camaraderie within the workplace community.

Builders FirstSource, the leading provider of structural building materials, praises veterans for their strength, loyalty, and skills in the workforce.

CEO Dave Flitman has expressed his admiration for the members of the armed forces, saying, “I’ve always considered members of our armed forces to be heroes.”

Recognized as a top workplace from 2010 to 2019 and acclaimed for its support for millennials in 2015, Builders FirstSource offers veterans a rewarding career that values their service and invests in their future.

8. Encourage continued education

Veterans often bring a wealth of experience and skills from their military service. However, providing opportunities for further learning can open new doors and enhance their professional growth.

Many veterans are eager to build on their skill sets or explore new career paths. Employers can play a pivotal role in this journey by offering educational benefits such as tuition reimbursement or scholarship programs.

By doing so, companies not only invest in the individual development of veteran employees but also contribute to the organization's overall success.

For instance, Rockwell Automation, recognizing a talent shortage in manufacturing and technology, partnered with Manpower Group to launch the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing.

This innovative 12-week program trains veterans in essential skills like controllers, AC drives, and motors through a blend of classroom and hands-on lab experiences. 

With over 170 graduates from diverse military backgrounds, including the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps, the program boasts an impressive 80 percent job placement rate.

Graduates secure roles in leading companies such as Cargill, Owens Corning, Georgia Pacific, and, of course, Rockwell Automation, meeting the evolving needs of the industrial landscape.

Fostering a culture that values ongoing education sends a powerful message: learning is a lifelong journey. This mindset benefits veterans and encourages all employees to embrace continuous improvement.

It promotes a workplace environment where individuals are empowered to stay current with industry trends, adapt to new technologies, and take on new challenges, fostering innovation and growth across the organization. 

Supporting veteran employees: A blueprint for success

Prioritizing support for veteran employees enhances workplace culture and drives organizational success. By embracing their unique skills and experiences, offering tailored resources, and fostering an inclusive environment, companies not only honor veterans' service but also harness their invaluable contributions.

Investing in veteran support initiatives not only benefits individuals but also strengthens the entire workforce, promoting diversity, resilience, and excellence.

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