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Following our nation’s lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, considerable effort and resources have been expended to help the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces make a successful re-entry into the civilian workforce. This article discusses how employers can tap into and retain that talent.

As the national unemployment rate continues to drop toward record lows, there is increased competition and demand for top talent. Smart business leaders are giving renewed attention to military veterans. The men and women who’ve served our country in uniform are a well-trained, well-educated, diverse, and highly motivated group who have earned the opportunity for serious consideration by America’s employers. They represent the 1% who volunteered to serve, which is especially impressive when almost all knew they would be placed in harm’s way.

Almost 250,000 men and women leave active duty every year. Their skills and experience span the gamut from entry-level to executive management. There are few civilian occupations that do not have a military equivalency. But what if your company requires specific skills that the exiting service member does not possess? In many cases, they are entitled to government-funded training to help close that skills gap. And in some cases, the government will even pay their salary for a limited period while they work for your firm!

So how do you reach some of America’s best? Start your search by visiting this Department of Labor website: On this page, there are three main links: GET ONE-ON-ONE ASSISTANCE, POST A JOB, and HIRING TOOLKIT. The toolkit, officially titled America’s Heroes at Work – Veterans Hiring Toolkit, will lead you step-by-step in designing a veterans hiring initiative. You should find this resource especially helpful, as it consolidates the resources provided by the Departments of Labor, Defense, and Veterans Affairs.

There are many other ways to connect with military veterans seeking employment. Some of the most popular include: attending military-focused job fairs, using military-niche employment websites, participating in employer panels on military installations, and using military staffing firms. Specific questions in this regard should be directed to the article’s author.

One of the biggest challenges employers often face when considering veterans is in translating their military experience into civilian terms. The Department of Labor’s Veterans Hiring Toolkit can help you here as well. See and enter the title of the occupation you are seeking in the block labeled “Keyword Search: Enter a keyword to find a military occupation.” You should also ask for the assistance of other veterans already working for your company. They will very likely be able to help you in the military-to-civilian skills translation.

So after you’ve done all this work to connect with and hire veterans, how do you retain them? As with any worker, it’s important that you have an on-boarding program that makes your new employees feel welcome and sets the stage for their becoming valued members of your organization. For your new military employees, you might connect them with a “military buddy,” a fellow military veteran who already works for your firm and who can help successfully integrate them into your company.

Top military performers are accustomed to being recognized for their work. During their military service, this recognition was not monetary and does not have to be monetary at your company. What’s more important is to recognize these top military performers for going “above and beyond” to help get the job done. Such positive reinforcement will help you retain your veteran employees while attracting new ones, for they likely know other people who’ll soon be leaving the service and would be happy to tell them that your company is a great place to work. If they are pleased working for your company, they will likely become some of your best recruiters, thereby keeping the military talent pipeline flowing!

In closing, America’s veterans represent an outstanding source of talent. They volunteered to serve when our nation was at war. Give them an opportunity to become your new best employees. You won’t be disappointed!

Carl Savino is a longtime, nationally-recognized leader in the military-to-civilian career transition business. His book, “The Military-to-Civilian Transition Guide,” is given to everyone leaving the service. Carl can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].


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