Service members are tough. Many have endured the horrific sights, smells and sounds of war or military combat. 

Service members are resilient. They face demanding, hostile situations, day after day, for the duration of their tour or deployment.  

Service members are human. When they return to the world they once knew, they are changed by their military experience. The adrenaline rush, camaraderie and sense of purpose ends abruptly. As they readapt, they deal with issues related to their time in uniform that may affect their emotional state.

Finding a job can be a challenging transition for a veteran on his or her return home. Both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs offer assistance, but they require the former service member to make a serious commitment and take action.

 The key to successful reintegration, including career direction, is to intercept veterans as soon as possible. Getting them on a clear path, with one-on-one counseling, is essential. A focus on potential careers and not just quick job placement is extremely important.

 But a conundrum persists: While veterans want to work, employers are increasingly sensitive to hiring them, often because of problems they may encounter in adjusting to the civilian workplace. Both parties must share equally in the responsibility to ensure a successful match.

Challenges for veterans:

Adapting to the civilian world — its structure and behaviors

Translating military/combat skills into meaningful civilian attributes

Learning to reestablish themselves into a marketplace where they may feel left behind

Challenges for employers:

Writing job descriptions that target the veteran population

Establishing and formalizing mentorship programs

Understanding the nuances of rank, terminology and one-off skills

Much of the burden — and opportunity — falls on veterans. Businesses and HR professionals can become more sensitive to the nuances of recruiting, hiring, training and mentoring veterans. But veterans must also be able to “sell” themselves — the unique qualities they possess because of the demands of military life, their personalities, their marketability and their fit. Studies have shown that the ability of veterans to lead teams and work in dynamic environments, along with their dependable work ethic and loyalty, can make them an excellent addition to the civilian workplace.

U.S. employers should try to hire veterans and develop their career potential. We can do no less than our best when it comes to our veterans. Our mission is clear, our duty is sound, and our commitment is firm.

— Ralph Galati ’70 and Andrew Colket

Both combat veterans, Galati is director of veterans services at SJU and Colket is the program administrator.

 

The Saint Joseph’s University Office of Veterans Services participates in a regional consortium of military-friendly employers who are committed to increasing their ranks with veterans. The office staff meets with human resource organizations to help veterans with career searches, and local firms have offered to provide pro bono services to student-veterans. The SJU Chapter of Student Veterans of America also helps the office prioritize needs and determine ongoing program requirements. www.sju.edu/veterans