This year approximately 250,000 service members will leave the military and transition back to civilian life, according to a report by the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The vast majority of these men and women are still in their 20s and 30s with long civilian careers ahead of them. It isn’t exactly breaking news that many young veterans struggle with this transition, including getting an education and finding a job.
A Young Veteran: Looking for My Start
A few years ago, I faced many of these same issues. After serving nearly five years in the Marine Corps, I left the service in early 2010. What I found most difficult was identifying a rewarding career that would give me the same sense of purpose that serving in the military did.
In the end, I was luckier than most. I met Jennifer Mackovjak, Hillard Heintze’s Senior Vice President of Investigations, in a grad school class, and she quickly became a trusted friend who helped me revamp my resume, gave me leads on jobs and offered support. She also introduced me to the corporate investigations industry. I found that it fit my personality and experience perfectly. Most importantly, Jennifer introduced me to Hillard Heintze, a company that immediately stood out to me because it has many veterans and retired law enforcement officers on staff and emphasizes public service as a part of its culture.
Luckier than Most
However, not every veteran has “a Jennifer” to help guide them through their transition and into an exciting new career. And, although many companies want to hire veterans, not all of them have the same public service background as Hillard Heintze. They might not be able to identify how a veteran’s professional experience fits into their business model as naturally as Hillard Heintze does.
Luckily, there are resources that can help both veterans and hiring managers. In 2012, the White House published guidance for employers who want to hire veterans, including a guide to help hiring managers understand veterans’ resumes, a series of questions employers should or should not ask during an interview, and a list of programs that match employers with veterans looking for work opportunities.
Employers may also consider working through organizations such as the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment & Training Service or the Marine for Life Program, which is run by veterans and reservists and helps match veterans and prospective employers. I also would recommend that companies have a veteran on staff to review resumes and consider having the veteran sit in on job interviews with job candidates who are veterans.
This Veteran’s Day is a great reminder that while the transition is not always easy for the quarter million veterans leaving the military every year, finding meaningful employment is key to their success. Luckily, the numbers of employers out there who see value in the experience veterans bring to the workplace continues to grow and more veterans can be as lucky as I was.