Veterans Successfully Transitioning into Today’s Business

Because many falsely believe that veterans’ skills are not transferable to today’s business world, many trained men and women remain unemployed. Veteran unemployment—involving veterans who have fought in post September 11th wars—is at 7.9 percent, higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. In fact, according to John A. Meyer Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. and former U.S. Air Force flight commander, today’s veteran’s skills and experience are among the best resources for businesses and their brands. Meyers suggests businesses imagine hiring a veteran to be the first “line of defense for your brand.” Imagine hiring an employee who is committed to his or her work, who is responsible and accountable, who knows how to handle customers and understands technology. Imagine hiring a veteran who is able to maintain calm under business pressure, working with you with respect and composure, Meyer notes. Meanwhile, given the skills received through enlistment and, sometimes, repeated deployments, today’s military experience easily translates into the business world, including management, entrepreneurial, organization and technology skills. Veterans have a proven history of commitment, dedication, teamwork, motivation, confidence, supervising and being supervised, Meyer points out. All of these skills and are very transferable to the business world. The issue, says Meyer, is that a translator might be needed to work through the military’s unique language and the unique language used in the corporate world. Veterans may need some guidance translating military verbiage to convey accomplishments and skills. The solution? Meyers recommends being aware of the potential language gap, and working to ensure that they are not overlooking some very valuable ex-military assets. According to Meyer, who has worked with thousands of veteran-run small businesses, veterans understand how to own a situation, how to take charge, and how to empathize with customers. Meyer also points to the excellent communication skills needed by military personnel and their ability to use state-of-the-art technology on the front lines of war situations. Clearly, notes Meyer, veterans have the potential to be managers and entrepreneurs, but they should also take steps. For example, people who have served in the military should caution against appearing stiff or directive. In the military, orders are always followed; however, in the business world there is greater room for negotiation, input, and consultation prior to making decisions. In the business world, colleagues tend to be more involved in the process. There are steps and conflicts and differing goals in business. In the military,” explains Meyer, “the objective was clearly defined and singular: take the hill. I measured how successful I was by how fast I took the hill.” In business, not every member of the same team shares the same goal. The decision process must be discussed; negotiations are typical, which enables learning, participation, and changes. Changes are being seen—the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and Walmart’s pledge to hire 100,000 veterans in five years—that enable increased exposure for veteran unemployment; however, Meyer says that while these are moves in the right direction, more is needed. “Veterans have proven that they are capable of not just filling jobs but creating jobs for fellow Americans—a better long-term goal for our economy and our country,” says Meyer. “Early on in business, there were some hills I took and found that I hit the top all by myself. It goes with the territory. Then again, that is why veterans often make good entrepreneurs and business partners.” Reference: Meyer, John A. “Veterans Ready to Serve As Corporate Assets and Entrepreneurs“; The Huffington Post. March 6, 2014.

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