By Eric Dehm
Veterans are highly trained, highly motivated individuals that can be a great addition to any workforce. In the modern era, many vets exit the military with college degrees, or earn them soon after departing with educational programs like the GI Bill. On top of the fact that veterans are more educated now than at any point in the past, we also have incredible life experiences to draw from that the average person we might be competing for a job with does not.
So why, then, are so many vets unemployed or underemployed? It’s a question with as many answers as there are un- or under-employed vets. Still, some common themes emerge when you talk to veterans who are struggling, or have struggled in the past, with the transition from military to civilian employment.
One major obstacle is how different the set-up of the civilian job market is compared to what we are used to in the military. Think about it: you don’t have to write a resume in the military, nor do you typically need to interview before being assigned to a duty station.
Hire Heroes USA is one organization that recognizes the issues vets face, and works with them to build and maintain a foundation that increases their likelihood of becoming, and staying, gainfully employed. They do this via a number of preparation tactics including resume assistance and having vets go through several types of mock interviews.
The CEO of Hire Heroes USA, Marine Corps vet and former UFC fighter Brian Stann, says all of the personalized programs the organization has in place are aimed at the widest possible vet audience– including spouses.
“The ultimate goal is that every man and woman who serves in the military, or as a military spouse, we are there to help them deal with the unique challenges they face,” Stann told ConnectingVets.com. “Not just to find a job, but to find a meaningful career and to lead again in their community like they did in the military.”
Those personalized services helped Coast Guard veteran James Klein in his search for employment. He says the resume assistance, which was his very first step with Hire Heroes USA, was incredibly valuable and he got results right off the bat.
“As soon as they took a look at it, it was personalized and they could draw out the best of what I actually wanted to do,” Klein said. “As soon as I put it out on the sites I was using to find employment, it was instantaneous. People wanted to talk to me, phone calls were coming in, interviews were set up. It was immediate, it was definitely noticeable, and that was just the beginning.”
Aaron Pulz, an Air Force Academy grad and C-17 pilot, told ConnectingVets.com that when he left the service, he had difficulty finding the right job for him. While the preparation Hire Heroes USA gave him was beneficial, he believes it was the extra push he got from his personal counselor that kept his spirits up.
“She would call me every month to check up on me,” Pulz said. “There were times I didn’t want to talk to her because I hadn’t made any progress and I was a ashamed about that. But Laura was wonderful, she would call me and give me a little bit of support and advice, essentially, and that checking in that she did? It kept me engaged. They really care about you and they’re really excited when you get that job you’re looking for.”
If that’s the case, the counselors at Hire Heroes USA have had a lot to get really excited about. In the first 4 months of 2017 alone, 2600 vets have been confirmed hired after going through the program. The high success rate of Hire Heroes USA is something Stann attributes directly to his workforce.
“They’re brilliant! 70% of them are veterans and everyone who works at Hire Heroes USA has a personal connection to the military,” Stann said. “This mission is personal to them and it truly means something to them. Every time they’re on the phone with a veteran, every conversation matters, every edit they make to a resume, everything is personal and means something to them.”
Because it is so personal, Stann says he and the entire Hire Heroes USA team will continue looking to improve and increase their efforts and say they won’t rest until every veteran who wants a job has not just any job, but the right one for them.