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The Right Reason to Hire Veterans

Do Them and Your Business A Favor

A former Army psychiatrist thinks companies often hire veterans for the wrong reasons, leading to bad results for both the businesses and the veterans. Dr. Harry Croft, co-author of Always Sit With My Back to The Wall and a former Army psychiatrist who has been working with veterans since 1973, argues that the best reason to hire veterans is for their skills.

Hiring returning veterans can appeal to Human Resources professionals for a variety of reasons. It might stir feelings of patriotism and provides a nice tax break. Companies can pick up some good PR by touting the number of veterans they hire each year. Dr Croft, believes these reasons are short sighted and do a disservice to both veterans and to business. "Veterans don't want charity, they want to perform a job," says Dr Croft.

Focus on Skill Sets

Dr. Croft notes that by focusing on marketing or emotional benefits, companies miss the opportunity to take advantage of skilled recruits. As a population, he argues, they are loyal, easily trained in new skills, highly goal-oriented and exceptional at working in groups. Finding ways to take advantage of these and more specific job skills will end up benefiting the business much more in the long run.

Integrating veterans into a private sector enterprise does hold serious challenges, Dr. Croft advises.  Unlike their civilian counterparts, former service members are frequently unused to translating their prior career experiences into general job skills. Dr. Croft asks HR professionals working with veteran recruits to provide more guidance than usual in the qualification process. The need for extra attention doesn't end at hiring.   

Culture represents a more persistent challenge. Dr. Croft relates that civilian and military workplace culture can differ significantly Among the many differences are understandings of time. Adherence to schedule is strict in the military, but can be more relaxed in civilian work places. Former service members can interpret lateness as disrespect leading to a breakdown in work relations. Educating both existing employees and entering employees about these differences will help ease this challenge, says Dr. Croft.

Dr. Croft's thoughts on the more vexing issue of PTSD will be covered in a future post.

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