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Companies Can Succeed by Making a Workplace More Veteran Friendly

During any given year -- even the turbulent ones -- around 200,000 military members will separate and enter the civilian workforce, many for the first time.

But that lack of experience is only in civilian jobs -- it's not a lack of experience in doing any job at all. A company can help veterans settle in and grow the mindset needed for success.

At Navy Federal Credit Union, Tracy Andrews, a vice president who makes regular hiring decisions, says they actively work to hire veterans because of what they can bring to the job. And she thinks other companies can benefit by doing the same.

"We believe veterans bring unmatched experience when entering the workforce," she said. "The first thing companies need to do is understand how veteran hiring can enhance their workforce to meet their hiring needs."

Andrews said that one of the most difficult adjustments for newly separated vets and civilian employers lies in language. The military is notorious for its jargon and acronyms. Civilian companies speak a different way. But firms can help veterans overcome that with a little teaching.

Military veterans have different skills on different levels that can be very useful to civilian companies, she said. These range from so-called "soft" skills to advanced technical training.

"The nature of their experience gives them the ability to handle challenging factors in constructive ways because they've had these experiences that civilians may not have had," Andrews said. "Most military jobs require a high degree of technological understanding, along with the education and skills that surround that technology. So, veterans have had to adopt and adapt to the newest technology. And, for companies, that can create a real competitive advantage."

She said this is why veterans should be the first group of people any business owner of any size should be open to hiring. With that comes the need to help newly separated veterans adjust to a civilian work environment.

Andrews has advice for those employers as well.

"Tap into what you need. Do the research and recognize all the different types of jobs being done in the military, and see if you can match those skills to your business," she said. "Or go to outreach programs for folks transitioning out. They can help small businesses understand and find what to look for."

The article was written by -- Blake Stilwell

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