Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hiring veterans presents unique challenges

Last week’s observation of Veterans Day brings to mind the special challenges involved in bringing veterans back into the civilian workforce. Currently, the federal and most state governments provide for a veterans’ preference for government jobs. Federal legislation requiring private employers to grant reemployment rights to employees who have served in the military dates back to World War II. Military leaves of absence and reemployment rights of veterans and reservists are now governed by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which also prohibits discrimination and retaliation based on military service.

In addition, covered federal contractors have the obligation, under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), to take affirmative action to employ and advance certain categories of veterans. In recent years, VEVRAA has been expanded to include coverage of veterans beyond those who fought in the Vietnam conflict. Last year, the OFCCP, which enforces VEVRAA (there is no private right of action under the statute), announced its Good Faith Initiative For Veterans Employment (G-FIVE). This initiative gives special recognition to federal contractor establishments for their efforts in employing and advancing veterans and strengthens partnerships between the OFCCP and other agencies and veterans groups.

Leading by example, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO)
, regarding the employment of veterans in the federal government, on November 9, 2009. EO 13518 establishes the Veterans Employment Initiative for the Executive Branch, which is designed to transform the federal government into the model employer of America's veterans. The EO creates an interagency Council on Veterans Employment that will advise the President and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on the veterans' employment initiative. In addition, EO 13518 establishes a Veterans Employment Program office within most federal agencies. These offices will be responsible for helping veterans identify employment opportunities within those federal agencies, providing feedback to veterans about their employment application status, and helping veterans recently employed by these agencies adjust to civilian life and a workplace culture often different than military service. The OPM has also been instructed to issue a government-wide strategic plan that will focus on creating leadership commitment and an infrastructure in each agency to promote continued skills development and employment success for veterans. The strategic plan will also include marketing strategies aimed at agency hiring managers as well as veterans and transitioning service members. (For more information on the initiative, go to:

So, what special considerations should employers note when seeking to hire, reemploy, and advance veterans in the workforce? Earlier this month, an insightful article was posted on discussing “How to Integrate Veterans Into the Workforce.” Key points made by this article include:
* those who have served in the military three years or more have considerable supervisory, budgetary and diversity experience;
* job functions should be reviewed to consider whether certain military experience may equate to certain educational degrees;
* hiring managers need to learn how to translate military positions to the language traditionally used by human resources managers; and
* including veterans in a company’s recruiting team allows veterans to learn about the company from someone who understands military culture and language.

Internet resources for hiring veterans include the US Veterans’ Employment and Training Services' “Hire Vets First” website and

1 comment:

  1. good article and i am going to twitter the linked one about integrating vets into the workforce. i am leading a veteran mentoring project in wa state where i use some affiliated corporate supporters to provide mentors, link them to transitioning vets by affinity, then lead them through a 12 week curriculum to polish their job hunting skills. my group focuses on junior to mid-grade enlisted folks but the group itself is open to all paygrades and folks who are looking to support the effort.

    i think what sets this effort apart from the multitude of others is the i am driving the conversation and interaction. we all know of a lot of people who want to help but it has to be directed or you don't get specific and measurable outcomes to fix the problem that's out there - many vets haven't been equipped with the skils to translate their experience into language that corporate folks can use.

    contact me at or on linked in under my name - dan eddinger, or in the group HAH-Veteran-Employment-Group, and help vets get over the hump.