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Veterans Are Invaluable Assets

Posted on November 9, 2016
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Friday is Veteran’s Day.

My father is a member of The Greatest Generation. He is 93-years-old and was shot down over Germany during World War II. Despite his injuries, he made his way to the German border. After numerous close calls with German soldiers, he was taken to Brussels and hidden in a house with family who owned a small chain of department stores, where he spent the next two years. My uncle was also a WWII veteran. He served in the 10th Mountain Division spending much of his time in the French and Italian Alps.

After the war, they both returned to the states. I have never thought about their re-entry process because it was rather simple, they both went to work for family. That is not the case for many of our veterans, who constitute about 9% of our working population, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our post-9/11 vets want to re-enter civilian life, get jobs, and spend time with their families, but it isn’t always that simple.

Finding a job as a vet can be difficult. According to, employers often do not view veterans’ skills as transferrable, they prejudice veterans based on stereotypes, they worry that veteran employees can be deployed again in the future, or they believe veterans won’t acclimate well, especially in corporate America.

While some companies use these misconceptions to avoid hiring our veterans, there are many that choose to focus on the ethics, loyalty, higher standards, and attention to detail that our veterans bring to the table. These companies acknowledge that our vets may have different needs than civilians, but they are making the commitment to honor the men and women who have served our country, and they hire them.

There are a number of military friendly employers such as Verizon, USS, CSX, Comcast, Discover, Ernst & Young, Hilton Hotels, Hormel, PNC Bank, and Walmart. The commitment of each of these, aa well as the many other companies that hire our vets, differs from one to the next.

For example, Hilton started Operation: Opportunity in 2013 to combat the 10 percent unemployment rate of post-9/11 vets by setting a goal to hire 10,000 military veterans. In an open letter (Nov. 3, 2016), Hilton Worldwide President and CEO Chris Nassetta wrote, “I think it is important for everyone to understand that veterans are incredible assets for a company, and they bring highly transferable skills, experience, and values – things like discipline, organization, problem-solving, and teamwork.”

Through Operation: Opportunity, Nassetta noted Hilton learned a great deal about veterans. He argued that potential employers should consider the following:

  • Identify Common Ground – For Hilton, they realized Vets might not immediately consider the hospitality industry, but they worked to identify how hospitality was similar to running an army base or a battleship.
  • Provide Tailored Resources and Support – Hilton created a Team Member Resource Group to help facilitate the transition from military to civilian life, which included helping vets to feel welcome in their new jobs.
  • Short-term and Long-term Career Opportunities – Hilton recognized early on in Operation: Opportunity that not every veteran was looking for a career in hospitality. For some it was a transition position and Hilton was okay with that.
  • Family Matters – For veterans, family is important. Unlike civilian families, veterans have spent long periods of time away from their families. Hilton recognized veterans need the ability to be with their families, and thus they offered flexible hours, etc.
  • Veterans are Invaluable Assets – “As much as we’re helping them, they are doing even more to help up achieve our mission to be the world’s most hospitable company in every way possible.”

As part of Drexel’s participation in the Military Transition Program, veterans begin their re-entry into college at Goodwin.

John Rans, a Senior Academic Advisor in Goodwin College, who works closely with our veteran population said that, “Student veterans come to campus with so many desired skills, such as leadership and management, that make them stand out from their peers. They have been instilled to go the extra mile to accomplish a mission or task so from my experience they do come to campus extremely eager to work and to work hard.” He added, “I have heard from their instructors that they are usually engaged in class and an integral part of the learning environment.”

The CEO of Hilton Worldwide noted, these veterans are invaluable assets, a sentiment echoed by John. “I specifically work with vets who have been out of school for several years and they truly embody persistence in their studies, which is key to success in any part of life.  It is something I am taking note of and want to incorporate more myself in my own life.

On Monday, Goodwin hosted a lunch for the veterans. I had the opportunity to speak with them, and I asked what they want from a future employer. While asking for a few concessions or considerations would no doubt be understandable, these men and women don’t want any special treatment. When pressed, they said all they want is: good pay, job security, health insurance, child care, and a 401K – just like the rest of us.

If you are in a position to hire, please give the men and women who have served our country the opportunity to shine, to show us what they are made of, and how they truly are OUR invaluable assets.

Anne Converse Willkomm
Director, Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University

Posted in leadership-management-skills, interpersonal-communications