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Why Hire a Veteran?

I pose this question, “Why hire a veteran?”, knowing that the answer has for the most part eluded the American Job Market since the conclusion of the war in Vietnam in 1975. For the obviously reasons a company or conglomerate ought to hire a veteran has been occluded and disguised behind the reek and subterfuge of our nations sympathy and patriotism. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because vets deserve our thanks. You shouldn’t hire a veteran for the tax breaks or the good PR. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because of the suicide epidemic within the community where it’s been shown that employment is canary in the coal mine and the bellwether for more serious mental health concerns. And you shouldn’t even hire a veteran because it’s the right thing to do. No the real reason to hire a veteran is rooted in cold unforgiving capitalism and surmised most eloquently from the retired NFL Wide receiver Randy Moss…”Straight cash Homie!”

Yes the reason to hire veterans are that under the right conditions, veterans make an organization a ton of money, and vastly more than could be accumulated with civilian counterparts. Beyond values and honor, veterans bring to the civilian world an unabashed almost maniacal compulsion to accomplish the mission. And veterans will stop at nothing to achieve this, even at the expense and detriment of their own personhood. Once veterans achieve total buy in, they are adaptive, ingenious, rugged, and brash, living by the ethos: Mission First, Men Second (men signifying universality).

So what’s the catch? And If it were that easy then why isn’t everyone doing it? Well the truth is that it isn’t that easy. The United States Military did not invent the first electric programmable computer, the atomic bomb, and topple Nazi Germany in a two-year span because we were more capable, the military accomplished these feats because it was more committed. Whenever dealing with the military the secret sauce will always come back to leadership. The United States doesn’t spend billions on ROTC and Academy scholarships for nothing, it’s because it takes committed knowledgeable Leadership to harness the wealth of potential embedded within an U.S. serviceman.

I threw in the words “under the right conditions,” as a hedge. Creating proper conditions is not without its cost, and conceivably not for all organizations. By throwing a veteran into an environment without explicit duty, to deprive a veteran of the significance of his/her work, or to limit responsibility is a recipe detrimental to the organization and the veteran. But as the free market dictates, it takes money to make money, and should a company be willing to create the structure where veterans have both the significance associated with their work as well as management suited to inspire, well then even Hitler would attest, that there aren’t any individuals better suited to innovate, manage, invent, succeed and most importantly drive profits. And I’m certain you’ll find then ends justify the means.

Alex Mack is a U.S. Army Veteran, former Infantry Officer and Ranger. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and has worked as a headhunter/recruiter for numerous companies before transitioning into the Veteran nonprofit sector. Alex currently serves as the Director of Development for Silhouettes for Vets, an l non-profit bridging the employment veteran civilian divide by any means necessary.


A Veteran’s Hiring Initiative – Do YOU Really Have One?

Most large and mid-size companies throughout the country have Veteran Hiring initiatives – or do they?

First, it seems fair to ask – What actually is a Veterans Hiring Initiative?  Does this mean the company will only hire Veteran’s – of course not!  Does it mean that it is advantageous from a publicity stance to “say” you have a Veterans initiative – perhaps!  Or does a Veterans Hiring Initiative mean that a company will make a concerted effort to hire Veterans – Yes!  Over the course of the past few years as these initiatives were developed and implemented this is the breadth and depth of what a highly functioning veterans initiative should be.

Unfortunately a great number of companies say they have Veteran Hiring Initiatives for outward appearances to the public, for these companies are marketing their organization for their own benefit without any of the claimed benefit professed to be bestowed on our Veterans.

Companies who have Veteran Hiring Initiatives have open positions – these are not Veterans jobs but jobs!  It is a misconception to believe that a company with an initiative will only hire Veterans.  Of course a company with an initiative would prefer to hire a Veteran but if a Veteran applicant is not prepared or qualified for the job then the position ought to and will be offered to the person who will perform the best. Therefore all job openings should be treated as such and even though an initiative may exist, it is not a Veterans job opening – it is a job opening!

Throughout the Los Angeles area companies are making a concerted effort to hire Veterans.  Many Staffing Companies have created military divisions to work with Veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce.  Both private and public sector companies (including staffing organizations) coupled with Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Veteran Hiring Initiative are making in-roads to ensure Veterans are securing positions at a living wage. Yet for as many companies that are actively recruiting and hiring Veteran talent in Los Angeles, there are perhaps 10-fold more who only advertise their initiative for their own benefit. Los Angeles and the nation must strive to employ our Veterans at a wage that is sustainable in order that we decrease the number of homelessness, substance abuse, and suicide within the Veteran community.

The solution to the Veterans Hiring Initiative is two-fold.  It incumbent upon those service veteran organizations, like Silhouettes for VETS, to prepare our Veterans for the workforce.  There are literally dozens of organizations in the Los Angeles area who prepare, in one way or another, Veterans for the workforce including, the VA, EDD, CCD, JVS, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.  Yet when surveyed Veterans say that they do not know where to go to get these services.  The job of the service organizations is not only to prepare and educate our Veterans for the workforce but also to spread the word about the services that are offered. 

There are over 40,000 non-profit organizations throughout the country that work with Veterans.  Many of these companies work to support Veterans to educate and prepare them for employment.  Yet spreading the word about these companies who prepare Veterans for employment is not an easy task.  Many organizations are competitive and judged off the numbers of enrolled vets they can procure making the process of hiring both soiled and competitive. Veterans should be able to work with as many organizations as they wish in order that they can be prepared for the workforce and get a job.

The USC School of Social Work Survey, “The State of the American Veteran” cites that 8 out of 10 Veterans arriving in Los Angeles are unemployed!  There are over 16,000 Veterans in Los Angeles who are unemployed and over 40,000 Veterans unemployed in Los Angeles County.  And thousand’s more who are under employed.  For purposes of Veterans hired, it is unfair to consider those who are under employed (below a living wage).   Many of these returning military personnel are not prepared for the civilian workforce.  The organizations that educate and prepare Veterans for the workforce have undertaken a herculean task. But through coordinated and concerted efforts these organizations can make a difference – to educate and prepare every single qualified Veteran for the civilian workforce.

The second piece of the puzzle remains with the employer. Employers with Veteran Hiring Initiatives ought give strong consideration to qualified Veteran candidates. Not just by saying, “We hire Veterans” or “Veteran Welcome”, but by taking action by mandating a percentage of the workforce, such as many companies in New York have done. If every company with an initiative agreed to a percentage, regardless of what the percentage was, veterans would then become interviewed and their skills and abilities would quickly come to the forefront of the corporate world.  Although military life does not parallel civilian life, it does educate our Veterans to understand the value of a work ethic and task accomplishment, the cornerstones of productive business practices. 

It is one thing to say we hire Veterans, but it is something entirely different to see these words begin to equal action. Let us all, Veteran Service Organizations and employers alike, work together to use our knowledge, our expertise as well as our appreciation to decrease the Veteran unemployment rate and eliminate the number of those who are under employed.



A Year in Review…

Over a year ago I began cultivating and developing the concept of a unique organization that would present a program that worked with Veterans to empower them to find gainful employment.  After over 500 hours of research the concept, the business plan and the implementation of the Silhouettes for VETS program began in January of 2014.  What I believed would be a 20-hour a week effort has turned into a full time endeavor that has become the most rewarding work I have ever undertaken.

As I began a call to action for Silhouettes for VETS I had no idea that this concept would be so positively received.  I remember going to my first event at CSUN with homemade business cards, no brochures and only an idea for a website.  Even without any collateral material my initial conversations with veterans made me realize that the need for a one-on-one customized educational and coaching service that empowers Veterans to find employment was in high demand.

There are over 40,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the United States that work with veterans – many of them work to put veterans to work.  There are organizations that prepare resumes, assist with interview techniques, work with veterans in transition and those that offer workshops assisting veterans as they enter the civilian workforce.  Yet I have found that no one organization has developed a one-on-one customize approach to working with veterans through the entire hiring cycle – from transition from the military to the first day of work and beyond. 

Silhouettes for VETS in a unique and customized program that works with veterans to educate, empower and prepare veterans individually for the workforce.

Nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in any manner can only succeed with a passion and a commitment that is unwavering.  The passion and commitment of Silhouettes for VETS has resulted in over 75 Veterans finding gainful employment in the past 10 months.  Our goal will always remain – Increasing Veteran employment…one Veteran at a time!

For the first 10 months, I coached veterans and marketed the services of Silhouettes for VETS.  During this time I collaborated with many of the other nonprofits that work with veterans.  My special thank you to The Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, The Office of the Mayor (Los Angeles) and many of the Work Source Centers (especially Canoga Park) for without your support my coaching successes could not have happened. 

But a special thanks goes to Kelly Logan who is now the Executive Director and Vice President of Silhouettes for VETS.  Her tireless efforts to support veterans through the Los Angeles area is unmatched and without equal.  Her dedication to our veterans along with her creative ideas on how to better assist the veteran community is one of the major reasons for the success of Silhouettes for VETS. 

We are about to enter our second year of working with veterans in a one-on-one customized environment.  I am confident that the seeds we have planted in the past twelve months will enable Silhouettes for VETS to grow into a national organization that will educate, prepare and assist veterans as they seek gainful employment.  It is our goal, with your generous donations ( and the award of grants to have Silhouettes for VETS locations in at least 10 cities in the next 18 months.

My heartfelt Thank You to all the Veterans with whom we have worked over the past year, the organizations and educational institutions who have supported our efforts, our passion and the Veterans with whom will be work with over the coming years.

A Happy, Safe and Healthy New Year to Everyone.


Significant Moments in English Football

Significant Moments in English Football

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