Manufacturing professional and serial entrepreneur. Founder of FactoryFix.com.
It is just simply not enough to say: “Thank you for your service.” Our veterans were willing to put their lives on the line to protect us; we must protect them by providing meaningful jobs and a career path that honors their service to our country. Anyone who has lived through the rigor of military deployments has already experienced something few of us can relate to in our reasonably comfortable lives. These are consistent, reliable, dedicated and remarkable people who can make the best employees; offering these individuals anything less than a runway to success would disrespect their service.
Aligning military training, experience and teamwork with job opportunities in the industrial complex is precisely the algorithmic paradigm required. Although employment data for veterans is vastly better now versus a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are still hundreds of thousands who remain unemployed or are not currently in the workforce data. With Veteran’s Days 2021 approaching, a double-down approach is required to make it easier for veterans to find a dream job to support themselves and their families.
Like all employees, veterans want a good-paying job. Other factors can make a job more attractive. Mental health support as part of a benefits package is a big deal to veterans. Not every vet lives near a Veterans Affairs hospital offering these benefits, so if an employer can provide mental health support, it shows another level of appreciation for service and recognition of the trauma that may have been experienced during deployments.
Furthermore, suppose a manufacturing facility is configured to meet the physical needs of a veteran who has lost limbs or is in need of a wheelchair. In that case, the availability of ramps and other Americans with Disabilities Act features will increase the pool of candidates for manufacturing employers seeking high-quality veteran employees. Simple things like dedicated disabled veterans’ parking spaces are welcome for job candidates.
There are several specific steps that can create a place for veterans in the workforce to feel safe in managing their PTSD or other mental health challenges. PTSD Awareness Month occurs each June, yet manufacturing employers can take the pledge to raise PTSD awareness throughout the year. Employers can use Veteran’s Administration PTSD images on their social media profiles. Employers in the industry should share resources like the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1).
There are simple and practical things that can help, such as regularly texting a veteran employee and asking how they are. Make active listening part of an HR strategy, and make workplace adjustments to help them adapt to civilian production floor realities.
Veterans and veteran groups appreciate when industrial employers get involved at the community level to prove their support and appreciation; it must be more than just lip service. Employers need employees, and veterans can be some of the best employees. Manufacturers engaged in these groups demonstrate goodwill and build trust and respect from the citizenry; it’s the right thing to do.
In addition to giving veterans preference in hiring for federal government jobs, other labor programs are relevant for veterans. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) site provides on-the-job training and transition assistance for veterans and members of the National Guard called to active duty. VETS also provides employers and veterans service organizations with technical assistance to help them understand and comply with these labor laws. The VETS site provides extensive information.
Increasingly, veterans are becoming entrepreneurial and hiring other veterans. Military.com contributor Blake Stilwell suggested that veterans are, at heart, an entrepreneurial group of Americans. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, vets are 45% more likely to start their own business, and there is one veteran-owned small business for every 10 veterans in the U.S. That’s around 2.4 million businesses. If you’re a veteran-owned business, be sure to do everything you can for your fellow veterans by hiring them and helping them thrive.
These are heroes, and the best way to honor them is to align their military training, outstanding honorable service and patriotism with equally exceptional job opportunities and become customers of the entrepreneurial enterprises they are launching.