“A man that is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards,” President Theodore E. Roosevelt

A high rate of veteran unemployment continues to be a nationwide concern, pulling together both national security and economic advocates. With veteran employment above the national average, at 12.1 percent for post 2001-era veterans, and more service members being required to leave the military thanks to troop drawdowns, it’s a topic that will only increase in importance over the next several years.

The Center for a New American Security recently released a report on employing America’s veterans, and the overarching theme of the study will come as no surprise to most in the defense industry – hiring veterans is simply good business.

More than 87 individuals representing 69 companies were interviewed for the study. It took the approach of getting to the heart of why companies hire veterans. While veterans possess attractive skill sets, high unemployment numbers reveal there are obstacles employers are encounter when it comes to actually making the hire.

Key Issue: Skills Translation

At the end of the day, veterans will rarely get a job simply because they’re vets (which comes as good news for most service members, who aren’t expecting a hand-out when they leave the military). Translating military skills into the civilian sector is a key issue for employers looking to hire vets, the CNAS study noted.

Negative stereotypes concerning post-traumatic stress or inability to acclimate back to the civilian workforce were also cited as concerns. As was simply finding veterans, thanks to the plethora of veteran hiring organizations and government initiatives (you’ll want to note that 75 percent of ClearanceJobs users are veterans, so we’re a good place to start). Some view veterans as inexperienced, although study author and senior fellow at CNAS Dr. Margaret C. Harrell disagreed:

“I would challenge the perception that service members come back from the service without marketable skills,” said Harrell before an audience at CNAS’ annual conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. “They worked in a team environment, kept people safe, were responsible for expensive equipment. There are a lot of things a young vet brings to the table. A 22-year old vet should compete fairly well with a civilian of the same age. Right now they’re just not able to articulate it well.”

Despite the challenges, almost two-thirds of the employers in the CNAS sample actively looked to hire veterans. All agreed that they would select the most qualified candidate, but as one respondent noted, “the tie goes to the vet.”

Where Companies Find Success Finding Vets

When it comes to where employers find vets to hire, they listed base visits and transition assistance programs, military career fairs, partnerships, and employment websites.

While stereotyping can have a negative impact on service members, it has a definite upside. The qualities employers and hiring managers have come to expect from veterans, and those that make them a valuable employee, include character, discipline, resiliency, loyalty, and effectiveness. It would seem employers come to expect certain qualities from veterans that help them to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.

It’s these qualities that likely make a veteran hire the “good business” option. They’re a key reason why many companies will continue to make veteran hiring a priority, although more needs to be done to streamline veteran hiring resources to make it less confusing for companies, as well as helping service members translate and transfer their military skills into the civilian world.


Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email editor@clearancejobs.com.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.