Veteran Employment in the Private Sector

The training you receive in the military may be of more value than you are aware.  The military instills some of the most important values, practices and skills necessary to go far in the outside job market.  The following is a list of the top ten reasons employers prefer to hire a veteran over other individuals:

Leadership – Military members are trained to lead by example, inspire and motivate those under your command and elicit desires results.  They are adept to handle all types of personalities and manage differences in behavior.

Respect for procedures – Veterans are aware of the benefits of following procedure and policy and how they create a well-oiled machine.  They have a high regard for personal accountability for not only themselves but those they are in charge of leading. 

  1. Accelerated learning curve – Veterans are capable of learning new skills with quickness and efficiency.  They come into the workforce possessing a vast number of skills that have been used in real-world situations that would be an asset to any organization. 
  2. Efficient performance under pressure – Veterans have been trained to work within given time constraints under less than optimal conditions and still produce successful results.  They show diligence in completing tasks and deliver the best possible outcome.
  3. Teamwork – Even though veterans can work responsibly on an independent level, they have vast experience working as a team.  They understand the importance of group contribution and using individual assets to accomplish a common goal.  The great sense of responsibility shown to colleagues increases productivity when working in group situations.  
  4. Integrity – Veterans are known for their honor and strong moral principles.  This translates into trustworthy, honest and sincere employees. 
  5. Triumph over adversity – Veterans possess a high level of determination and endurance even in stressful and difficult situations.  They can overcome obstacles through flexibility and focusing on the end result as opposed to being caught up in setbacks and pitfalls that may arise.
  6. Diversity and inclusion in action – Veterans have been put in situations where they must rely on their fellow members for safety and success regardless of race, ethnic background, religious affiliation, geographic origin or mental and physical capabilities.  They are aware of everyone’s ability to contribute no matter what their differences and use individual’s strengths to the advancement of the whole. 
  7. Technology and globalization – Due to the jobs they work in, veterans are kept up to date on technical and global trends in business and industry.  They also have a global outlook that many other individuals do not possess.  These qualities can be a great asset to any organization.
  8. Conscious of health and safety standards – Veterans have a high standard of personal health and fitness.  They are trained to be aware of health and safety protocols which translates into the protection of those members of your workforce and a safe working environment. 


It’s a documented fact that as a group, veterans tend to have a lower unemployment rate than nonveterans. However, this is not the case when it comes to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. As published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the October 2013 (most recent available) rate of unemployment for this population was a whopping 10%, compared to the national rate of only 7.3%. That 10% is equal to 246,000 individuals seeking employment! Considering the sacrifice these men and women made for this country, this is unacceptable.

Why are so many young vets unable to find work? Many factors have been identified, including service-related disabilities, difficulty applying military training and skills to civilian job requirements, lack of civilian work experience and the educational level of most Iraq/Afghanistan war vets.

Many of these young men and women enlisted right out of (or shortly after) high school and according to the BLS, in the general population, the unemployment rate is higher for those who only have a high school diploma.  On the other hand, some of these vets have college credits but for various reasons, have been unable to complete a degree program.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is supposed to help veterans and active-duty members gain access to higher education and training, but it has not had the intended impact.

To address the continued high unemployment and low college graduation rates particularly among this group of veterans, Senators Tim Kaine and Saxby Chambliss introduced the SERVE bill. The overall goal of SERVE is to improve the quality of education programs for active duty and veteran service members, as well as assist them with the transition to civilian employment.


  1. Ensure that servicemembers receive a quality education by raising the minimum standards for educational institutions and programs that accept VA or DOD educational benefits to be consistent with other federal tuition assistance programs.
  2. Require these institutions to fully disclose graduation rates, withdrawal policies, program costs, etc. Reliable data about veteran graduation rates have been difficult to find as no one tracked the retention and graduation rate of veterans attending school under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. (NOTE: The VA, DOD, and Department of Education are now under an executive order by the Obama Administration to collect this data).
  3. Require the provision of or access to academic and/or career counseling designed to improve retention and graduation success as well as preparation for civilian careers. Some institutions, such as the University of Arizona, have courses specifically designed to help veterans make the transition from military life to college life as well as how to apply their military skills to the civilian world.
  4. Create pilot programs for states to develop “best practices” to ensure that employment training programs are included in the offerings under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.