In Honor of Veteran's Day: Why Hiring a Vet is a Great Bet

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If you're going to a Veteran's Day parade on Thursday and are in the position to hire, you could turn it into an informal job fair.

Veterans have qualities that employers want -- leadership, getting missions accomplished, performing under changing circumstances, reliability, task oriented, a strong work ethic, and have been trained with top skills by the military -- according to veterans and others interviewed by AOL Jobs.

"The Army showed me the potential that I had," said Kate Kohler, a former U.S. Army captain who is now chief operating officer for the PenFed Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps military personnel and their families.

That training led Kohler, now 36, to West Point, seven years in the Army as an officer, graduating Harvard Business School, earning two master's degrees, and working at Morgan Stanley.

A skilled work force

Patriotism shouldn't be the only reason for hiring a veteran, but it's at least a place to start, said Lt. Col. Matt Leonard of the U.S. Army Reserve, who is also the public affairs officer for the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, which partners with companies to help soldiers and veterans find jobs. The group is debuting a website on Veteran's Day to help veterans find jobs.

"This isn't a charity case. Our people are skilled," Leonard told AOL Jobs. If employers want to use a job offer as a way of thanking someone for their service to the country, it's a good start, he said.

"It offers employers a concrete, real tangible way to say thank you to our troops," he said.

Veteran John Wilder, 60, who is trying to restart his career as a marriage counselor, told AOL Jobs in an e-mail that the military taught him a lot of experience at an early age.

"You get a sense of self discipline rarely found in other employees and a sense of respect," Wilder wrote. "Veterans have a sense of duty, honor and country. If you have never been in the military, you have no idea of the conditioning inbred into veterans. The other thing is that young men are given responsibility at a much earlier age and are used to managing people and understanding responsibility. For example, I was a shift leader managing three military and 12 civilians in a hospital diet kitchen at the age of 21. It was my responsibility to get 200 people fed on time and maintain proper safety and hygiene practices."

The benefits of hiring vets


Employers in health care, law enforcement, engineering and technology regularly look to hire veterans because of the valuable skills they learned in the military, he said. Some websites even have filters to help vets search for veteran-friendly companies, although the drug screenings and background checks that have already been done on military members save companies money and should be enough to make them friendly to hiring veterans.

Other benefits to companies include getting tax credits for hiring veterans, and the federal government paying the relocation costs of a military member who is just coming off of active duty.

Kohler said she's found that employers are very open to hiring vets, but don't speak the language of the military and don't know all of the attributes that an applying vet could bring to the job. The differences between a team leader and squad leader are big enough that the job candidate needs to point out to a human resources worker what their responsibilities were in the military, she said.

Being in charge of nine co-workers and overseeing $2 million worth of equipment is a lot of responsibility at age 24, Kohler said, and worthy of pointing out in a job interview.

Next: Transforming Your Resume From Military to Civilian

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