Stand To: Working Together to Solve Challenges with Veteran Employment

Despite our success in reducing veteran unemployment, companies still face significant challenges in recruiting, hiring, and retaining veteran talent.

In 2011, the United States was facing a crisis in veteran unemployment, with veterans facing higher unemployment rates than civilians. Recognizing the need and positive impact of veterans in the workforce, the American business community refocused on hiring veterans, nonprofit organizations worked to mitigate veteran unemployment challenges, and the government created programs to assist veterans seeking employment. Through these efforts, veteran unemployment has now decreased to levels below civilian unemployment. Despite our success in reducing veteran unemployment, companies still face significant challenges in recruiting, hiring, and retaining veteran talent.

In partnership with the Bush Institute, Hiring Our Heroes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reached out to leaders across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to further examine the causes of current veteran employment issues and to set the stage for collaborative action. This task force developed recommendations on how to mitigate and overcome these veteran employment challenges. Throughout these three meetings—in March, May, and June—the task force used the veteran employment life cycle as a framework to discuss issues and opportunities associated with each interconnected phase of the life cycle:

  • Pre-Transition: Activities, along with the supporting tools and resources, available to transitioning veterans during their transition from the military
  • Recruiting and Hiring: The process by which organizations attract, select, and appoint suitable candidates for professional roles
  • Onboarding and Integration: The process of getting an employee into the organization, networked and aligned to become effective members of an organization
  • Retention: The process by which an organization retains employees in its workforce. Often refers to the strategies for retention rather than the outcome of those strategies and includes setting conditions for employees to progress along a career path

While separate and distinct, each stage is dependent on the other, and, for enduring success, members of private, public, and nonprofit organizations must take a synchronized approach to reinforce a successful veteran employment strategy. Task force member discussions revealed that many veterans lack a clear sense of what type of job or industry they would like to pursue or do not know how to articulate how their skills translate to the civilian workforce. Another issue the members identified is that talent acquisition members lack military knowledge and context for evaluating veteran candidates. Starting the transition process earlier could enable veterans to spend more time thinking about employment before transitioning out of service. Since there is an absence of comprehensive veteran employment data, task force members agreed an opportunity exists to re-visit veteran employment data collection, sharing, and analysis.

From their discussions, the task force members identified key issue areas and provided corresponding recommendations to support veterans in finding purposeful, full-time employment.

Key Recommendation Areas

  • Increase public-private partnerships to improve veteran employment outcomes
  • Expand apprenticeship, fellowship, and internship programs for transitioning service members
  • Expand data collection, sharing and analysis
  • Enhance employer hiring, onboarding and retention best practices
  • Identify opportunities to customize transition assistance
  • Create and expand DoD programs
  • Identify opportunities for expanding aptitude testing

To build on the recommendations, the task force will discuss these issues at the Bush Institute-led Stand To, and share suggestions for the current Administration to provide the much needed momentum to enact these recommendations.

To learn more about the civilian-military divide and our veteran resources, visit the following links:

Guest authored by:

Hiring Our Heroes President and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Eric Eversole

Arcadia Group Founder and CEO and Blackstone Veterans Initiative Advisor Michael McDermott

Deloitte Strategy and Operations Principal Mark Goulart

JP Morgan Chase Director of Veteran Jobs Mission Ross Brown