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Veteran Passionate Employer Series

The Challenge: Be Veteran Passionate Not Just Military Friendly

Post # 1 in the Veteran Passionate Employer Series

What runs through your mind when you meet a veteran?

Patriotism? The flag? The uniform? Drill sergeants barking orders while young recruits frightfully rush to execute? Images of 9/11? News reports of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq? Reports of civilian casualties? Usama bin Laden? Images of explosions or sounds of gunfire? Wives and children mourning over a flag-draped coffin? The list goes on and on.

Hollywood and the media fill our minds with images of the violence of war.

Because of this conditioning, it is only natural that our brains might  attribute those same images, and the violence they present, to each service member we meet. I experienced similar typecasting as an FBI agent - everyone thinks being a female FBI Agent equates to Clarice Starling or Agent Scully from the X-Files. Sadly, it does not! 

The truth is, the characters the media presents are a combination of the most extreme moments of many, many people’s lives. The intensity of combat we see in the movies leads us to believe all veterans have experienced this same intensity of violence, when, in fact, it is actually an aggregate of the experiences of many, many veterans. These unconscious assumptions can lead us to misunderstand the veterans standing right in front of us and misinterpret their intent and behaviors.

In my upcoming series of posts, I want to introduce you to veterans - not as heroes, villains, or even victims. I want to introduce you to them as the very real human beings they are.

It is my goal for you, the individual dedicated to hiring veterans, to gain a better understanding of your nation’s warriors as the truly are, not as Hollywood has portrayed them to be. It is my desire that by humanizing the stereotype, you will start to envision veterans as your next new hire and then take the actions necessary to make that happen.

Many companies have taken a pledge to hire more veterans. They have placed a banner on their website that says, “Military Friendly Employer” and some attend military job fairs, but they aren’t all meeting their veteran hiring goals. That is because there is a difference between inviting veterans to apply and actually hiring veterans. I am hearing from recruiters that veterans often fall through the cracks due to the inability of the company and veteran to speak one another’s language.

Being military friendly is not enough.

I challenge you to become a Veteran-Passionate employer. Veteran-Passionate employers examine their hiring practices and seek to better understand their veteran candidates in order to move qualified veterans through the entire hiring cycle, from applicant to employee. Veteran-Passionate employers seek to discover the value veteran candidates bring to their organization. They recognize the corporate benefit of leadership skills honed under intense circumstances and will put in extra effort to hire those skills. They don’t do this as charity outreach, but rather because they recognize hiring veteran talent has a positive return on investment for their bottom lines. They cross the culture divide by studying military culture - how vets speak, gesture, joke, and show respect. They take steps to understand veterans so that veteran candidates don’t feel ignored, exploited or, worse, like the monkey on display at the zoo. Read this post by Garrett Wilkerson to hear one veteran’s story that demonstrates the latter point.

I hope you will join me in this series and that you will make a commitment to be more than military friendly. Be Veteran-Passionate!

The Author:  Jean South is a Marine spouse, daughter of two Army veterans, and former FBI Special Agent. During her career she has had the honor of working alongside our nation’s warriors. As the President and CEO of Your Next MOS, Jean gives companies a competitive advantage to compete for veteran talent by helping bridge the culture gap between military candidates and company recruiters.   She also serves as the Veteran Outreach Director for Bunker Labs Philadelphia connecting with veterans and Veteran Service Organizations in the Philadelphia metro region to provide entrepreneurship opportunities to veterans and their spouses.

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