People have all kinds of mixed feelings when it comes to hiring veterans. The fact of the matter is, there are a multitude of benefits to hiring veterans, and most of the perceived drawbacks are based on myths. Unemployment is well-known to cause depression, and depression can exasperate PTSD symptoms. With unemployment of post 9/11 veterans at 16.7% according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA) and 12.1% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) versus the civilian population at 8.7%, one easy way HR pros can help veterans with their mental health, is to hire them.
Vice president of strategic business development for Monster Government Solutions, Susan Fallon, explains that Military veterans have a wide range of skills they bring to the table, that their civilian counterparts may not possess. Being adaptable, able to work well in groups, handling and performing under pressure, leadership, and being goal-oriented, are all traits that veterans have, according to Fallon.
“This isn’t about patriotic duty, this isn’t about doing something good.” she said
“This is strong business practices.”
When you factor in the tax incentives with the experience, it becomes especially appealing. Certain states such as Illinois and Virginia, have even passed legislation that offer additional financial incentive to hire veterans. Veterans are qualified, loyal and hard-working employees, who give you considerable tax benefits. It seems silly not to hire veterans if you’re given the opportunity.
Concerns about returning vets mental health affecting their work performance, or worse, the safety of your workplace, are in large part unfounded. These concerns about PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) triggered violence, actually seem to be the result of unfair media hype. As blogger for the At War Blog on the NY Times website, Mike Haynie, pointed out in his post “As Attitudes on PTSD Shift, Media Slow to Remove the Stigma” returing veterans are actually less likely to commit homicide than civilians. 16, out of every 100,000 returning veterans committed a homicide in 2008, versus 25-28 per 100,000 civilians. The last thing we need to be doing to our returning warriors is sticking them with false stigmas.
Retired U.S. Army Col. and director of Student Veterans Services at Rutgers University, Stephen Abel, said that even though some Iraq and Afghanistan vets feel anxious once they’re home, they are not any more likely than civilians to hurt themselves or anyone else, which isn’t what the headlines lead you to believe.
“For employers who only watch television, and who only see extreme cases, I’m not sure that doesn’t adversely affect them (and discourage them from hiring veterans),” Abel said.
“Veterans are good for the bottom line. They’re reliable people. They come with a good work ethic. They’re pretty quick learners. At a very, very young age they’re given a significant amount of responsibility. I was 21 when I was commissioned, and all of a sudden I was in charge of the lives of 120 soldiers.”
So next time you’re filling a position, and you have an applicant with military experience, be sure to consider everything they offer that’s not on paper. Courage, loyalty, respect, and leadership to name a few. And next time you see a news report referring to vets as “ticking time bombs” just know that stories on a smooth transition into civilian life don’t sell. Hiring a veteran is one way you, as an HR pro, can help the country, and your business.