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.