Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Helping Our Vets Find Jobs - An Opportunity and a Challenge

In a recent Facebook posting, LT Rajiv Srinivasan of, provides a link to an excellent article by John Zappe that appeared in "Employers Think Vets Are Great - They Just Don't Hire Them"

John Zappe article

His major premise is this:

"It’s the inescapable fact that US service men and women are having a harder time finding jobs than the civilian population.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the unemployment rate for veterans who served after 9/11 at 10.6 percent, a full percentage point higher than for the population as a whole. Women vets fare even worse. The unemployment rate for them is 11.9 percent; men are at 10.4 percent."

Based on my observation, there are three basic reasons why employers are not more pro-active in hiring vets. I could write a book on each one, but in this case I will simply sketch out the issue

1) Many employers have an antiquated and stereotypical picture of what military leaders looks like.

They assume that military leaders use autocratic "Command and Control" tactics to get their troops to obey. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the stereotype persists. I still have conversations with HR personnel who say to me: "I hope that you have explained to your candidate that here in the 'real world,' you can't just say 'jump' and expect someone to jump.

2) Most people in the business world do not have a clear picture of what Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines actually do, so they have a hard time picturing their value proposition and qualifications for jobs in the private sector.

A corollary to this problem is that it is the rare veteran who has adequately prepared a resume and cover letter that translate the jargon and acronym of the military world into language that the business world can understand.

3) There is an insidious fear among many non-veterans that they may be hiring a vet who suffers from PTSD and that man or woman may be a ticking time bomb.

In his book, "One Bullet Away," Nate Fick powerfully recounts just such a conversation with a young admissions officers at a business school who wonders if admitting Nate to this school might expose the rest of the student body to danger.

So, we have a number of obstacles to overcome if we are to do a better job of giving our veterans a fair shake in competing for jobs outside the military.

Let me continue with two specific examples. The first comes from Andrew Russo, a combat-test Army veteran who is an entrepreneur. Here is a recent e-mail message that I received from Andrew:


Greetings! I have an employment opportunity if you know of any recently returned vets in need of some management work. Before the advertisement hits the airwaves, the owners of Red Barn Coffee Roasters in Upton are looking to hire NCO level individuals for an operations manager position. The individual would be in charge of a team of 5 individuals and monitor coffee roasting operations and logistics at our roasting facility. I think this would be perfect for the E5/E6 crowd of recently returning veterans, especially if they love coffee.

I am partnering with Red Barn on a new venture and have the ability to strongly influence the final decision. The owner here is a retired Navy CDR and the Roast Master is a Vietnam Vet so we are very veteran friendly.

Feel free to connect me with anyone you feel may be suited for this task. I would be more than happy to speak with them. My best and have an excellent day.


Andrew Russo"

There it is - a veteran wanting to hire other veterans. If you are interested, contact me and I will be glad to put you in touch with Andrew.

Finally, let me offer a brief case study and a challenge, coming from USAF vet and Air Force Academy graduate, Al Feliu. He is in the job market and offers this summary of his value proposition.

"As we conclude observing Veterans Day 2010, we proudly look back to and salute those who've served before us and to the left and right of us to those who currently serve in harm's way today throughout our turbulent world. With thankfulness and gratitude to each and every one of us of those who have the title of US Veteran”, we say a heartfelt “Well done and Godspeed!”. We all look forward together to the days ahead of us to a brighter future for our families, our communities and our Nation!

One person that is looking forward optimistically, even in these times of trying economic turmoil is Albert Feliu – USAFA Class of 1984. Albert, who currently lives in Atlanta, GA, completed a successful 13 year career with BellSouth/AT&T as a senior project manager with specialties in business process improvement, large business case management and project management training. He has managed teams as large as 30 people, budgets in the tens of millions of dollars and has had accountability at the highest levels of division/corporate leadership.

He is now looking forward to his next business opportunity in 2011 with a motivated company focusing on achieving higher market growth and leading business excellence. Albert's completed and extensive business profile can accessed @

Or feel free to contact him directly at .

Once again, to all my fellow vets “thank you for your service to all of us and to our Nation. It is a pleasure to have served with you all!”

I challenge you to reach out to Albert Feliu and his brothers and sisters in moving concretely and intentionally to help him find the next place where he will be able to make a contribution.

Al Chase

1 comment:

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