The problem on hiring veterans is age old – at least going back to the Vietnam War. Now don’t take this as an old grouch complaining, but I’ve been in and out of the civilian job market several times (since I have several periods of broken active duty time, and reserve component service). I finally retired with a bit over 30-years as a sergeant major from the reserve component.
I will tell you that veterans are misunderstood given that only about 10% of Americans serve in the armed forces.
I have a degree. It is in “Social Science.” That’s a Jesuit euphemism for Liberal Arts – totally useless at all levels. I acquired the degree while serving in the regular component.
Since retirement, the only really profitable employment I have been able to secure is slinging an M4 on various contract projects in the current selection of worldwide hell holes. Fortunately, my employers appreciate the virtues of a Grunt.
The argument that veterans are better prepared from a leadership and reliability standpoint is right on the money. But, employers are put off by the military demeanor. Civilians live in a world where there are few or no absolutes – no black and white. For those of us who have served, we know that there are objective truths, unambiguous situations, and a direct route to solving most problems and accomplishing most tasks. Civilians just don’t like that – particularly in the private sector. In many states (the People’s Republic of Massachusetts for instance), public sector jobs are reserved for the hack relatives and friends of politicians. That would include (in many cases) even police and fire department jobs. Thus, background, education, experience, and talent mean less than a degree in liberal arts!
Really, a Corporal clearing shacks in-theater has handled life and death responsibility. His civilian counterparts – and those who will determine our Lance Corporal’s employability – have handled profit and loss at best. In the grand scheme, there is no comparison in responsibility. Life and Death v. Profit and Loss . . . Go figure. Of course that is the harsh reality.
Further complicating the issue is that veterans – particularly the younger guys – are Type “A”, testosterone-soaked hard-chargers who are put off by the indecisiveness and political correctness typical of most civilian supervisors.
Of course, the civilian world does not know the depth of their loss in not hiring veterans. We all have known those guys like an infantry Gunnery Sergeant who writes publishable poetry, or the Lance Corporal who can figure out a complicated morning report in his head. We’re just better rounded – even those short on academic credentials.
There are some happy characters out there. You will hear from those who say, “I found a great paying job in my field right in my back yard! If I can do it, you can too!” That’s nothing more than the prattle of some guy who can’t see beyond the end of his own particularly lucky (or maybe highly talented) nose.
There is no good answer. We can rest assured that those who dare place themselves in harm’s way at least have the knowledge that they have trumped the temporal “Profit and Loss” standard.
All in all, Henry had it right: “And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”