Last month, there was a sight to behold. Organizations from every industry, size, and outlook came with pad in hand to take seminars, share stories, and generate connections: all in the hopes of hiring and retaining more veteran employees. It was a business casual dynamo of enthusiasm and collaboration: Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofit powerhouses, mid-sized companies, major universities, and government organizations gathered in a large conference area in Nashville, Tennessee; diligently teasing out and hunting possible strategy improvements to bring back to their respective businesses.
As a representative of a national nonprofit dedicated to aiding organizations with improving their veteran quality of life, I observed in appreciation as the participants exhibited a genuine concern for their employees and demonstrated great skill in navigating the turbulence of providing warrior aid with limited resources. Some organizations were seeking counsel on how to launch a sustainable initiative, and others leveraged their wealth of experience to share their leadership in the veteran community.
There was a certain frustration which would arise on occasion, as many of the event participates have encountered a complex, but common problem in the veteran community: how do we get veterans to buy in? For different industries, this question has different meanings. For those seeking skilled labor, they wanted to know about how to encourage self-identification. Others in nontraditional industries such as finance, the interest was focused on encouraging military that their skills are in demand even though their transitioning skill set is not readily apparent. A large majority of the group feverously inquired about how to get on base or to coveted recruitment events. There were many suggestions, but the difficulty seemed to truly lie in local community. Every fishing spot is unique. Base Commanders and University Presidents have significant lateral discretion, which means that generating a process or policy of gaining access to the valuable military candidates a challenging battle on the national scale.
America’s Warrior Partnership sympathizes with the unique struggles of recruiting veterans from local communities, and that is why we use the Community Integration model. Large organizations who invest into the local communities they operate in will have increased success. A partnership with us and local nonprofits can provide a commercial organization access to a network of individuals and veterans who stand to gain from the offer of valuable employment.
Where veterans are not likely to utilize transition resources provided upon immediate separation, they are likely to enroll with a local veteran organization after the initial shock of separation wears off. As such is the case, the real difficulty in improving the quality of life of veterans requires national businesses to invest enough in veteran initiatives so relationships are firmly established in the localities to include universities, healthcare institutions, military installations, transportation specialists, and local businesses so that the communities are empowered to support a network of services available to the military connected population.