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5 Reasons to Consider Military Veterans in your Diversity Planning

By Brandy Doggett

Project & Implementation Manager

Whether they spent 4 years or 30 years serving our country, military veterans have diverse skillsets that oftentimes get overlooked just because they may not hold a degree or have specific civilian job experience. Next time a veteran applies at your organization, consider these reasons why they may be a great fit and add immense value.

1. LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK: Many military members join the armed forces directly out of high school or in their early twenties. This means they are thrown into leadership and vital team environments at the beginning of their adult lives and are expected to thrive. Many service members are leading teams of individuals after serving only a few years. They have likely had some degree of management experience in a team setting that individuals in the civilian world may not get the opportunity to have until they are years into a career. On the teamwork front, service members are expected to work with and respect those around them, regardless or education, background, or experience. The military exposes individuals to situations others may never even dream of, but also instills the need to work together to achieve a common goal. This display of intentional teamwork is something many civilian workplaces strive for, and by integrating veterans into the work environment they can support this culture with real life experience.

2. GOAL DRIVEN, REGARDLESS OF RESOURCES: Military veterans know how to make the most with a little. They have been trained to get the job done even without the most up-to-date equipment, best working environments, or ideal sleeping conditions. Finding work arounds and making the most out of what is available is the norm, while still accomplishing the task at hand. This goal-oriented attitude is an incubator for out-of-the-box thinking and deadline achievement. These are something every organization can recognize as critical for future-thinking growth.

3. SHOW UP READY TO WORK: From day one of basic training to their last day as a service member, veterans are trained to show up ready to work on time, in the correct attire, and groomed appropriately. While this may seem commonplace, even in the civilian world, oftentimes this is not the case. Many individuals show up to work late and dressed haphazardly. It is likely that this behavior would be considered unacceptable to prior service members and they would hold others accountable to the same expectation. This “ready-to-work” attitude also means they are reliable. It is an expectation that they show up as promised and as needed. That kind of mindset is not something that many civilian environments train on but is something that is instilled in veterans from the very first day they put on the uniform.

4. DIVERSITY: A lack of exposure to diversity can result in institutional ways of thinking and problem-solving. In the armed forces, service members are regularly confronted with diversity in a medley of ways. Often when employers think of diversity it is limited to differences in racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographical backgrounds. While organizational diversity is these things, it also takes into account diversity in job duties, diversity in past experiences, and diversity in knowledge and skills. Often veterans not only accept diversity, the expect it. They have exposure to diversity in the more traditional aspect of race and ethnicity through travel to other areas of the world as well as with long-term team members. Service members bring diverse experiences with them into the civilian world as well as diversity in thinking, in skills, and in acceptance of others. With today’s environment, experience in diversity is worth its weight in gold.

5. CHANGE ADAPTIVE: Humans are change adverse by nature, but the military sphere requires constant adaptation from its service members. Daily (if not hourly) schedule changes, job duty flexes, and unexpected emergencies are all regularities of military life. This flexibility and adaptability that military life requires is unparalleled by few other jobs in the civilian sector. Instead of challenging change, veterans will likely embrace it and help to lead the charge. This proactive approach to change makes veterans invaluable in fast-paced, dynamic cultures.

While these are only a few of the skills that prior service members bring to the table, they offer some insight as to why veterans are not only a vital part of our society but can be outstanding members of any organization. Next time you receive an application from a veteran, try to read between the lines and acknowledge that they have more to offer to your organization than a few key words and bullet points on a resume.


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