By: Demar Anderson
In the early morning hours of Aug. 15, on the high-altitude and rugged terrain of Mount Kilimanjaro, a U.S. Army Ranger takes the final steps of his solo climb up the Machame route, a 37-mile trek through the changing landscapes of farmland, rain forest, moorland, alpine desert and arctic ice fields. Physically and mentally exhausted, yet filled with pride he completed the nine-day trek in just under five days, the soldier proudly holds up his U.S. flag and smiles for the camera. His journey was to honor his fallen comrades and celebrate his upcoming retirement from the U.S. Armed Forces.
This soldier is my brother, Nick Anderson. And on Feb. 1, 2021, he'll retire after 23 years of service in the United States Army.
Over the years, our family has followed my brother's journey through the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, multiple duty stations throughout the U.S., Germany, Japan, and to his final destination working for NATO in Brussels. We kept in touch via Facetime, WhatsApp, email and the occasional visits of leave during the holidays. The culmination of his life of service was marked with the Meritorious Service Medal, an award presented to members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States. Retiring at the age of 41, my brother now faces the next big milestone of his life – what's next?
Veteran's Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace – dead or alive – and intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. Unfortunately, many face a difficult transition from military to civilian life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 8% of the workforce are veterans. Many leave or retire from service with work-inflicted disabilities, and some struggle to translate their skills acquired in service to the skills needed for civilian jobs.
Despite these challenges, here are several reasons why companies should hire U.S. Veterans:
- Proven Leadership and Leadership Readiness: The military trains people to lead by example through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. To move up the ranks, soldiers have to show their ability to take direction and, most importantly, lead. Veterans understand the leadership skills needed to manage teams for results, even in the most trying circumstances.
- Teamwork: You're only as strong as your weakest link. And in the military, this saying holds supreme. Soldiers are trained to work in teams. In many instances, their lives depend on it. Veterans understand how teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one another, and they hold each other accountable.
- Performance Under Pressure: Outnumbered and under fire on Guadalcanal, Capt. Henry P. Crowe said to his troops, "You'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!" Veterans understand the importance of leadership during challenging times. They have developed the ability to pivot quickly, be decisive during times of chaos and accomplish priorities on time, despite tremendous stress and with limited resources. In short, they know how to get the job done.
- Strong Work Ethic: Ethics is the heart of the armed forces and includes moral principles that guide soldiers in accomplishing their mission, performance of duties and in all aspects of their life. These tenets include caring for and developing subordinates, peers and leaders in Character, Competence, and Commitment. Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity that translates into qualities of loyalty, sincerity and trustworthiness.
- Experience Working in Diverse Teams and Organizations: Veterans have learned to work alongside people with different backgrounds, race, gender, religion and disabilities. They bring to the table a tremendous ability to work with different types of individuals and across different workstyles.
Studies have shown veterans are more productive and have higher retention rates. Employers recognize the value veterans bring to the workplace, but they often find it challenging to connect with transitioning service members and veterans seeking employment (Department of Labor).
If you seek a hard-working, motivated, ethical employee… try hiring a U.S. veteran. What better way to honor their life of service than by showing them that the skills they acquired are valued in the public sector as much as it is valued in United States Armed Forces.
For the soldiers who have honorably served our country, Happy Veterans Day! Today we celebrate you.
Demar Anderson is a proud U.S. Army brat and our vice president of Marketing. She is responsible for showcasing the agency's culture, thought leadership and award-winning work. She also spends her time doing pro-bono and volunteer work for non-profits that support human rights issues.