Guide to Veteran Hiring: 5 Myths and Facts About Hiring Veterans


By Justin Constantine August 7, 2018
Guide to Veteran Hiring: 5 Myths and Facts About Hiring Veterans

This article is excerpted from Chapter 2 of From We Will to At Will: A Handbook for Veteran Hiring, Transitioning, and Thriving in the Workplace (SHRM, 2018), by Justin Constantine with Andrew Morton, and is the second in a three-part series of excerpts. Part one discussed what employers should understand about why veterans leave the military.

Simply said, it makes good business sense to hire veterans. Companies that do speak positively about this strategy, and the veterans often become leaders at those companies. Their loyalty, teamwork and initiative, enable them to bring great value to the private sector.

Yet myths about veterans and whether they can thrive after their time in the military persist. These are the realities of having veterans in the workplace:

Myth 1: Military skills don't translate into the civilian workforce.

Fact: It is well documented that veterans bring extensive leadership experience, mission focus, teamwork and initiative to the corporate environment. Besides these and other "soft" skills, many service members receive security clearances for the work they do, and those clearances often remain active for two years after they leave the military. Hiring a veteran with an active clearance can save employers tens of thousands of dollars and months of time in background checks. Veterans also bring with them detailed work histories and specialized training in a plethora of fields. In fact, military jobs are categorized into more than 7,000 occupational specialty codes, and a significant majority of them directly correlate to positions in the private sector. Often, jobs in the military are identical to those in the civilian sector, only more demanding.

Myth 2: All veterans served in combat.

Fact: While it is true that we have had significant numbers of troops deployed to combat since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that was not always the case. There are significant numbers of veterans in the workforce who left the military before Sept. 11 and never deployed, and there are also plenty of veterans from the post-Sept. 11 generation who have never deployed. It is reported that about 80 percent of the jobs in the military are noncombat occupations, and those include roles found in the finance, logistics, administration, broadcasting, human resources, healthcare and engineering sectors.

Myth 3: All veterans have PTSD and it makes them unemployable.

Fact: Due in large part to military movies and stories in our media, many people think that all veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the numbers do not bear this out. Studies conclude that 10-20 percent of post-Sept. 11 combat veterans have PTSD, which equates to approximately 500,000 people. Compare that number to the 8 percent of civilians in America who will experience PTSD throughout their life (often from car accidents, violent assaults, rape, natural disasters and growing up in traumatic environments), which is approximately 26 million people. You are probably already used to working with, for or around somebody with PTSD but just do not know it. Many veterans with PTSD, like the authors of this book, have gone through counseling for it and are excited to be part of our nation's workforce. We know what our triggers are and the appropriate responses, and how to manage a productive workload at the same time.

Myth 4: Veterans can only follow orders.

Fact: While service members followed orders while in boot camp and officer candidate school, most veterans also have had experience leading other people. With promotions come greater responsibility and more opportunities for taking initiative and solving problems creatively. Military leaders communicate the mission, and then, without micromanaging, push the responsibility to accomplish the mission down to lower levels. This is especially true in a deployed environment where there are far too many variables for a commander to control, and even the most junior members make many decisions every day. Veterans are taught to accomplish the mission and get the job done, and that often involves thinking independently.

Myth 5: National Guard and Reserve employees have unpredictable schedules.

Fact: The typical training schedule for those who continue to serve our country is one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. That training does not just pop up, and the details will usually be made available months in advance. This is also true in the case of a scheduled deployment. Members of the National Guard and Reserve do occasionally get called up to active duty with no notice in the case of natural disasters or emergency military deployments. However, these are opportunities for your employees to serve their community (and yours) when they are needed most. 

Justin Constantine retired from the U.S. Marine Corps at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is now an inspirational speaker and veteran advocate. He speaks at numerous corporate, educational and military institutions about leadership, the upside of change, teamwork and overcoming adversity. Justin is also a partner at JobPath, a robust veteran employment platform that provides a variety of solutions to corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that hire veterans. 

Please visit the SHRMStore to order your copy of From We Will to At Will: A Handbook for Veteran Hiring, Transitioning, and Thriving in the Workplace by Justin Constantine with Andrew Morton.



Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs

Discover what’s trending in HR

Search and download FREE white papers from industry experts.

Search and download FREE white papers from industry experts.



Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.