Rug: “Veteran hiring is good for everyone”

BY NORBERT RUG

Hire a veteran, it’s good for everyone.

That person behind the counter or clerk you meet in the aisle of a store that you encounter today just might be a veteran. Veterans and reservists help staff and run operations for lots of businesses both locally and across the nation, including restaurants, manufacturers and retailers. Mighty Taco in Lockport has an Air Force veteran working there and we always spar with each other because I was a Navy veteran.

Hiring veterans benefits everybody. I can think of no better way to say “Thank you for your service” than to offer a veteran a job. Many veterans, both enlisted or officers, have higher education degrees, and many of them are very hard workers. Sometimes the job proficiency that you are asking for is something that can be taught and many ex-military are quick learners. Employers may want plug and play, but they are going to have to train someone no matter who they hire.

Many employers who seek out veterans to hire have stated there are many benefits in attracting veterans such as the experience that they bring like more focused attention and the ability to work independently. Military people are resilient and reliable. They don’t get upset or disturbed by change and you can count on them. They are used to going in and tackling challenges and accomplishing a mission.

Hiring veterans can provide tax advantages to employers as well. Because I was a Vietnam veteran, my employer got a tax advantage and I helped them fulfill their “diversity” quota. It was not only a win, win for them but it was a win for me.

I frequently see people with a ball cap on that lists a branch of the service or the unit they served with. I make it a point to walk up to them and welcome them home, thanking them for their service. It takes a special type of person to devote a part of their life to our country. Sometimes we may bust on each other for being in the “wrong” branch of the service but we are all brothers and sisters in arms.

One company, Walmart, is more than halfway to its goal of hiring 250,000 veterans by 2020. Walmart calls its program the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment. Through the program, it guarantees it will offer a position to every veteran who’s honorably discharged after Memorial Day 2013, or later. So far, the company said it’s hired about 188,000 veterans and promoted 28,000 more. Company officials also view military veterans honorably discharged before 2013 as potentially desirable employees, based upon their subsequent training and experiences.

Hundreds of companies that make hiring veterans a priority are about to get some attention from the U.S. Labor Department through a recognition program Congress created earlier this year. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing (HIRE) American Military Veterans Act, signed by President Donald Trump in May, creates the HIRE Vets Medallion Program to provide that recognition.

The medallion program will recognize about 300 participating employers in 2018 before being expanded the following year, federal officials said. “Through their military service, America’s veterans have leadership skills, technical expertise, and proven problem-solving capabilities. These are attributes that any employer would want.”

Companies acknowledged through the program will be able to show off HIRE Vets Medallions on their websites and within their social media posts and in printed materials.

Many times, employers don’t quite understand how to convert a veteran’s experience into comparable private sector jobs and frequently there aren’t jobs that correspond to their experience. I can’t think of many jobs that would utilize a Navy Seal’s or a Gunner’s mate’s training for instance. The problem is understanding that every veteran has had so many more duties than it initially appears. While veterans have educational opportunities by the use of the GI Bill, sometimes going back to school isn’t a realistic option. They still have to make a living especially if they have a family.

Many mistaken beliefs about veterans are driven by the high-profile stories that are covered in the media. There’s also the influence of an extensively quoted statistic from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In its 2012 suicide data report, they found that every day, an average of 22 veterans take their own lives, although this number doesn’t mean their death is just related to their being in the service. The population cannot be distilled down to just a simple number.

A few industry players are attempting to counteract this problem with specialized programs that cater to veterans and their families. The Cosmopolitan, a resort in Las Vegas actively recruits veterans and they reported this past year that 200 of their 5,000 employees are veterans or spouses of veterans.

Norb is a Lockport resident, a proud American and Navy veteran.

You can reach Norbert Rug at nrug@juno.com.

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