Recently at a luncheon that brought together veteran service agencies with companies hiring veterans and supporting veteran and service-disabled veteran businesses, I heard Carole L. Bionda speak about the efficacy of employing veterans.
Music to my ears. I'd have to say that employment generates more non-crisis calls to the National Veterans Foundation crisis and information line than any other issue. For veterans, employment provides purpose and income, two of the most important factors for a successful transition to civilian life. For that transition, it's essential that veterans willing and able to work gain meaningful, living-wage employment. This isn't, as we all know, always the case with veterans.
Bionda is Vice President and General Counsel of Nova Group, Inc., a general engineering contractor. She's also Corporate Secretary, EEO Officer and Human Resources Director, so when she talks about hiring vets, she knows the territory. After graduation from Cal State Berkeley, she took her law degree at Stanford, and has since become a Hall of Famer in the most macho of industries: construction. At the luncheon that day, she opened by saying that hiring veterans was a good thing to do. Not because it's patriotic to support veterans (and it is) or because it's the right thing to do (which is also true) but rather that--and here she paused for effect--it's good for business.
She went on to say that it's the smart thing to do for every company. She quoted a veteran returned from Iraq, "If I can help build a bridge in a heavy combat zone, how hard can it be here?" The other hallmarks of veterans as employees she listed were teamwork, the ability to carry out instructions and orders, giving orders, and meeting a timetable. Bionda told the group, "The ultimate difference between a civilian and a vet can be seen in how they deal with a problem: the civilian worries about it; the veteran deals with it. Vets find solutions." A veteran gets the job done on time and on budget, because that's the culture and structure they come from.
Are you smiling yet? Because I am! It was so refreshing to hear the issue turned inside out and addressed from the other side. Employing veterans is just plain good business for all the reasons Bionda listed. Where else can you find tried, tested employees who are willing and ready to work? To be sure, corporate America deserves credit for the initiative to "hire a vet." But in the end hiring a vet is a good thing for other employees, management, and for shareholders.
Employment means being able to take care of yourself and your family. It means you're a contributing member of society. It's the most meaningful way to say "thank you for your service" and "welcome home."
If your company is hiring veterans, let us know. We can post the job on the National Veterans Foundation website. Veterans looking for opportunity, for a way to transition back into civilian life, can find it and we'll be able to refer vets who call on our Lifeline for Vets. Everybody wins. Here's the number: 888.777.4443.