Report encourages cooperation to increase veteran hiring

Tuesday - 6/19/2012, 4:54pm EDT

Margaret Harrell, director of the Military, Veterans and Society Program, CNAS

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By Esther Carey
Special to Federal News Radio

Government agencies can do more to help veterans find and succeed in civilian jobs after finishing their military commitments, a recent report from the Center for a New American Security found.

Authors Margaret Harrell and Nancy Berglass completed interviews with 69 companies. From their research, they discovered that "hiring veterans is good business" for a variety of reasons, but the process of hiring veterans can be more complicated than with civilians.

One of the causes, according to the report, is that veterans and potential employers are frequently unsure how to translate military experience into more typical business skills language.

"Either the veteran or the company focus on what an individual's specific job in the military was," said Harrell, senior fellow and director of the Military, Veterans and Society Program at the Center, during an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose. "An example is riding on the top of a vehicle and shooting a 50 caliber weapon at bad guys. Companies look at that and say 'well we don't really do that.'"

To address this problem, Harrell suggested that the departments of Defense and Labor utilize aid from businesses that offer it, since they are most similar to prospective employers.

"Companies local to military installations would often welcome the chance to participate in the TAP [Transition Assistance Program] process and help with the translation of resumes," Harrell said.

It is particularly important that the language in veterans' resumes is understandable and applicable to potential hiring personnel who may not be familiar with military duties and language, she said.

Other recommendations in the report include a congressional revision of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, tracking veteran performance in jobs to help make the case that hiring veterans is good for business, and making it easier for hiring companies to connect with job-searching veterans.

In the end, it is most important for the various parties who are involved in the veterans' hiring process — the veterans themselves, the private business, the military, and Congress — to interact and work towards a method that will benefit everyone.

"We are most interested in veteran wellness," Harrell said. "Employment is a key aspect of that for many people. It can give them financial stability and purpose for life they need."

Esther Carey is an intern at Federal News Radio.

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