Veterans are determined, resourceful, and hard-working. They’re natural leaders with experience leading teams through extraordinary challenges. So why are so many of our country’s vets undervalued and underemployed, stuck in production line jobs that don’t allow them to use the myriad skills they’ve acquired while serving their country? Or struggling to find work at all?

Not only is it a disservice to the vet and their years of training, but it’s a disservice for the American businesses who could reap great rewards (a workforce of leaders, financial returns and more) from the talents these ex-service men and women have to offer.

To the companies already hiring vets, we thank you. To those of you who haven’t considered it, we ask “Why”?

Struggling to find the right people for your organization? You’re not alone.

 As business leaders you’re up against a real war for talent when it comes to employee acquisition. The unemployment rate in the U.S is currently sitting at 3.9% (4.8% in Washington State) — the lowest we’ve seen since the 1960s. No longer can you pick and choose from a sea of qualified candidates boasting the experience and a combination of hard and soft skills you expect from your employees; organizations are facing one of the largest talent shortages since 2007. Add that to the low unemployment rates and you’ll find that you’re likely struggling to find the right talent for your team.

And if sourcing the right people for the job is hard, staff retention is even harder. Employers expect that 45% of their newly hired college grads will remain with the company for under two years and The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reports that the average employee tenure rate is 19%, with involuntary turnover sitting at 8%. In real money, what that means is that companies with 100 employees may lose up to 27 employees annually.

With the cost of replacing an employee reaching an average of 38% of their annual salary, due to recruitment and training procedures, high staff turnover represents a huge problem for many businesses.

The solution: an untapped resource.

 The solution, however, is a relatively simple one — because the problem has been over exaggerated in the first place. There isan abundance of qualified job candidates, with a host of hard and soft skills and first rate work experience, if you know where to look.

There are approximately 12 million working age veterans across the country and upwards of 250,000 predicted to enter the workforce in each of the next several years. We’ll let you do the math!

Natural born leaders.

 If you have little experience with military training, you could be forgiven for wondering just what a vet could bring to your organization in terms of transferable skills but consider this: a typical non-commissioned Sergeant with up to two years of experience commands approximately four to five soldiers.

They’re responsible for their subordinates’ training in both basic military skills and relating to their military occupational specialties, for supervising the actions of the members of the squad, for implementing policies and orders given by officers, and for the performance of the soldiers, including discipline and morale. They develop strong communication and problem-solving skills.

This extensive training pays off in a variety of ways.

Efficient performance (even under pressure).

Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts and adapt quickly to different situations. They understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources and have developed the capacity to know how to prioritize, completing tasks on time, in spite of tremendous stress.

While you expect a “learning curve” period with all new staff, you’ll likely experience a more efficient transition when hiring a vet.

Leadership and teamwork skills.

The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation, and inspiration. Vets understand the practical ways to manage behaviors for results, even in the most trying circumstances. Yet most are well aware of hierarchical structures; they respect procedure and quickly grasp their place within an organizational framework.

Veterans understand that genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues and are adept at working individually or within a larger group. They have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of racial, gender, religious, or ethnic diversity and have the sensitivity to work effectively and cooperatively with many types of individuals.

Technological skills and globalization.

Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry. They can bring the kind of global outlook and technological savvy that all enterprises of any size need to succeed.

The right attitude.

Vets aren’t afraid of hard work. The nature of military training breeds sincerity, integrity, and reliability. Ex-service personnel have frequently triumphed over great adversity, having faced mission critical situations that required endurance, stamina, and flexibility. Many have overcome personal disabilities through sheer strength and determination.

Not all vets begin their military careers as “natural born leaders” but they certainly emerge with the kind of leadership skills that no college degree could provide, no matter how many extra-curricular activities you sign up for!

Why hiring vets makes financial “cents”.

The ability to hire (and retain) the right employees makes financial sense in and of itself, but recruiting vets can actually boost your business coffers even further thanks to a number of tax credits available to business owners who recruit unemployed veterans:

  • Tax Credit – B&OorVeterans Employer PUT Credit(WA) – A business and occupation tax credit or a public utility tax (PUT) credit is available to businesses that employ an unemployed veteran in a permanent full-time position located in Washington for at least two consecutive full calendar quarters on or after October 1, 2016, and before June 30, 2022. The credit equals 20 percent of the wages and benefits the business paid to or on behalf of the qualified employee not to exceed $1,500 for that employee.There is no limit on the total credit an employer may receive. However, the total statewide credits may not exceed $500,000 per fiscal year[1].
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)– Available to businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans.
  • The Returning Heroes Tax Credit– Provides incentives up to $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans
  • Wounded Warriors Tax Credit– Doubles the existing WOTC for long-term unemployed veterans with service connected disabilities up to $9,600[2].

Americans are quick to celebrate veterans in many ways; we donate to vet-specific charities, we honor Veterans Day, we wave our flags, and we thank them for their service. Yet if we really want to thank our hard-working ex-service professionals, we need to go beyond words. We need to prove that we appreciate their expertise, their experience, and their talents. We need to give them the opportunity to contribute to our society outside of the military. Veterans are looking for mission-driven businesses. The best way to demonstrate your commitment to Veterans is to employ them. They’ll thrive — and so will our businesses.

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If you’d like to learn more about recruiting vets the Federal, State, and Local Municipal governments are eager to help you out. Some free resources include Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Association of Veteran Friendly Employers (AVFE), US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Hiring our Heroes, US Department of Labor, and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

[1] Department of Revenue Washington State. Retrieved fromhttps://dor.wa.gov/find-taxes-rates/tax-incentives/credits.

[2]How to Get Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans. Military.com. Retrieved from https://www.military.com/hiring-veterans/resources/tax-credits-for-hiring-veterans.html.