Why Hiring Veterans is Good Business.
Leaving the military was scary. After years of physical training, skills development and frequent relocation… military service had become my “normal.” Those were some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. When I decided to return to the civilian world, it was nothing less than a culture shock. The people around me spoke differently, dressed differently and seemed to have a different sense of purpose. It felt like my job security was gone and the world of options overwhelmed me. I needed to figure out how to leverage my military background for a whole new future. Fortunately, I found a career that allowed me to continue to serve through education as a faculty member and advocate for current and former military servicemembers.
Schools Serving the Military
Grantham University is a 100 percent online university whose mission is to “serve those who serve and those who want to make a difference.” Founded in 1951 by World War II veteran Donald Grantham, giving back to active duty and veteran military members is embedded in the university’s DNA. This is what attracted me to Grantham. Approximately 50 percent of our students have ties to the military, including active duty military, veterans, or even immediate family members of a military servicemember. We’ve been named a Top School by Military Advanced Education and Transition for 10 consecutive years.
We offer reduced tuition rates for eligible military servicemembers and a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. Resilience Scholarship and the David “Bull” Baker Memorial Scholarship. We also partner with the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard (EANGUS) to offer full tuition scholarships to members. These scholarships enable students who may not otherwise have the means to pursue higher education opportunities, assistance in successfully achieving their goal of college education.
Hiring Veterans Is Good Business
The commitment to our military members extends beyond the classroom with our new initiative, Hiring Veterans Is Good Business (HVGB). The course is designed to teach corporations how to translate military skills into private sector advantages, the benefits of hiring veterans, and how to recruit and retain veterans. Available as both a 100 percent online, interactive course and a series of in-person seminars, we are putting boots on the ground to help companies diversify and hire veterans.
We realized the need for an initiative related to veteran employment and the transition process from military to civilian employment. When I was approached with the opportunity, I immediately realized the importance of this effort. Given my background as a military veteran and part of Grantham’s Foundations Faculty, I agreed to help develop this course and provide key insights into the transition process.
While it is common for employees to undergo continuing education programs to hone job skills, we identified a lack of continuing education in veteran recruiting and retention for human resources managers and recruiters. With our course, we offer continuing education for these professionals on this subject. Hiring professionals learn about the positive attributes and skills veterans bring to companies. Inherent traits of a military servicemember or veteran are leadership, responsibility, punctuality, adaptability, flexibility, creative problem-solving, teamwork skills and persistence in the face of adversity.
This initiative offers employers the opportunity to tap into those positive skills. However, building a veteran-friendly culture begins with dispelling some common myths. For example, contrary to public perception, most veterans do not experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year. Meanwhile, eight percent of all Americans, or approximately 24 million people, suffer from PTSD. The point being – PTSD is not necessarily unique to or significantly more common among military veterans.
Another common myth is that all veterans have served in combat. In reality, according to the Department of Defense, only about 20 percent of military jobs are combat-related. The majority of military positions have direct correlation to civilian jobs, and all military jobs provide skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
Veterans are often highly skilled and educated, but employers can have difficulty translating the titles, responsibilities and tasks of a military career into the corporate equivalent. Military resumes can become “alphabet soup” for employers, and often programs within the military aimed at helping members translate resume skills are voluntary. This combination can make it more challenging to compare military occupations to civilian positions. The HVGB class gives hiring professionals the tools to understand these skill sets.
Locating veteran talent is another challenge our community partners bring up often. Through the course, we provide guidance for human resources professionals to determine the best way to find veteran candidates. The class discusses interviewing, hiring and orientation best practices.
Many professionals who complete the HVGB course tell us how eye opening it is. “The program […] offers real-world advice on how to best target veterans when recruiting candidates. I would highly recommend this program, and the employers I work with have found it helpful,” said Sloane Gage, director of employer engagement, Workforce Partnership.
Finding the best employees is the goal of all companies, and this class helps recruiters find quality military talent. “The seminar was informative, concise, and I left excited to utilize the new information to engage veterans in the community! I would highly recommend to anyone trying to enhance their veteran recruitment strategies,” said Rena Bila, talent acquisition coordinator, FedEx Ground.
Since the creation of our Hiring Vets is Good Business initiative, we have formed several successful partnerships with businesses in the Kansas City area. Most recently, we held a Lunch and Learn training at Centriq, where recruiters learned how to best reach a pool of talented veteran candidates. Often, we are tasked with helping businesses identify and overcome these types of challenges in their hiring practices.
Through our HVGB course, Grantham has learned that it is important to focus on the holistic view of our honored members of the military – not just their advanced education. Teaching hiring professionals about all the benefits of veterans, how to translate military skills, and where to find and recruit veterans will give employers and veterans a competitive edge in the workforce. As our founder said, we have a duty and a privilege to give back to those who have given so much to this country, and we hope to continue doing so through this initiative.
Carol Pugh is a Foundations Faculty member at Grantham University and a military veteran. She has a B.S. in Education, a B.S. in Management, a Master of Education with a specialty in instructional technology and is working towards a Ph.D. in Education with a specialty in e-learning.