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Hiring Veterans: Harnessing Leadership and Commitment

July 25 is National Hire a Veteran Day. But every day, hiring managers should consider hiring veterans. Veterans have proven, time and again, that they are tremendous assets to any organization.

The discipline, teamwork, communication, flexibility and organizational skills that veterans bring to any organization are invaluable. In fact, the BBC recently published a story about how intangible skills, also known as soft skills, are strongly desired in certain professions – 91% for management jobs, 86% for business-operations jobs, and 81% for engineering jobs.

It’s a no-brainer. Companies don’t need to send veterans to training seminars to learn how to communicate effectively or demonstrate resilience during changing markets – they already know how to do these things. Not only have veterans been trained in these skills, but they have lived them and put them to practice, often in incredibly demanding or even life-threatening situations.

Related: Military Recruitment: Improving Enlistment Strategies

Veterans Are Often Skilled at Leadership Due to Their Military Experience

A common challenge for new leaders in an organization is “embracing a leadership mentality,” according to Forbes. This challenge comes from someone having to learn to lead rather than do.

Veterans come with a leadership mentality. From very early on in a servicemember’s military career, leadership is taught and practiced. Consequently, veterans come armed with the knowledge and skills to embrace leadership.

Hiring Veterans Can Be Useful for Businesses with International Markets

Given revolutionary technological advances, today’s businesses need to consider the global marketplace. Even the smallest businesses often have an international footprint through an online presence like an ecommerce website or social media sites.

Hiring veterans could be one of the best business decisions for any company that wants to develop a more international market. From their training and postings to different countries around the world, veterans have experience with many diverse cultures.

Many veterans have foreign language skills, often acquired through formal training. It is not an overstatement to say that cultural ignorance can be detrimental to any organization. Veterans have typically spent considerable time understanding foreign cultures, and this knowledge can be useful for any organization seeking to do business with vendors or customers in other countries.

Related: Digital Marketing and Its Evolution over the Past 30 Years

Veterans Are Resourceful and Can Adapt to Unexpected Challenges

One truism is that every organization has unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on businesses, schools, government, healthcare facilities, and societies around the world is a great example of an unexpected challenge.

Sometimes, these unforeseen challenges can impact a company’s image. in other cases, these challenges result in a lack of confidence in employees or management.

Veterans, however, have a teammate mentality honed through years of military service. When veterans are hired into an organization, they bring that teammate mentality with them. A teammate becomes incorporated into an organization’s culture and focuses on improving that culture.

The Qualities That Make for a Useful Employee, According to a WWII Veteran

I was honored to befriend Major Richard “Dick” Winters of “Band of Brothers” fame. Not only was Dick Winters a remarkable leader during WWII, but Winters was also a savvy businessman, developing and selling animal feeds to local farmers in central Pennsylvania.

I spent considerable time talking to him over the years prior to his passing in 2011. We often discussed his experiences during the Battle of the Bulge.

On one occasion, I asked him what he looked for in his soldiers or even employees. He told me, “I want someone who can handle the stress and not break under pressure.”

Obviously, these standards are a lot to live up to for anyone – especially considering Winters as a source and the fact that he survived five weeks of constant artillery barrage while being surrounded by enemy forces. However, his point is clear. Managing stress, dealing with the unknowns and remaining flexible are the skills that come with hiring veterans.

Dr. James Hess is a retired military intelligence officer with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Albania, Bosnia and more. He is also a professor at the University. He holds an A.A.S in intelligence operations studies from Cochise College; a B.G.S. in general studies from Northwestern State University; and an M.A. in liberal arts from Louisiana State University and A&M College. Dr. Hess received his Ph.D. in human resource education from Louisiana State University, where he studied improving analytical methodologies in counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism environments.

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