Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Business Volunteer Council Joins Forces with Veteran Experts

By Erica West

On June 9, 2016, Bergen County members of the Business Volunteer Council “Joined Forces” with experts in Veteran Affairs, at Sharp Electronics, Mahwah, to explore the benefits of hiring service men and women and providing them a supportive work environment to thrive.

Eli Amdur, career coach and columnist for North Jersey Media, opened the discussion by reminding us, “We need to do more than say thank you to our veterans; we need to support them.”

Yes we do, but make no mistake, hiring a veteran is far from an act of charity.

Veterans have more world experience, leadership skills, and applied more critical problem solving in high stress situations, at 22, then most of us will our whole lives. So, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m confused; aren’t these some of the top qualifications employers say they’re seeking from candidates?

Yet, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports the jobless rate for all veterans is 4.6 percent. More alarmingly, Gulf War-era II veterans (September 2001 to present) is 5.8 percent. Many of Gulf War-era II veterans, more than any previous recorded combat, are women. Making the number of jobless service woman, staggeringly higher at 6.4 percent.

So where is the discrepancy?

Part of the problem is veteran numbers are growing and jobs aren’t growing fast enough. And even amid the listless hiring rates of a slack economy, men and women with combat experience are being purposely ignored by some employers who fear they may have the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This type of stigma is creating roadblocks to veteran’s transition to corporate America.

Veterans who apply for corporate jobs should carry not a stigma, but a glowing recommendation. They are wired to work long hours with minimal sleep, start early, be trained quickly, and complete assigned tasks — all with a certain intensity and focus that only can be sharpened by combat experience. These are just a few of many qualities veterans possess that make them ideal employees. Eli Amdur highlights, 16 additional strengths in his 2010 article, From uniform to workplace: your next big victory. Why America’s veterans are great hires. 

Some companies, including New York-based financial giant Citi Bank, have recognized that service members carry unique talents from the battle field into the boardroom. They have paved the way among fellow corporate giants in hiring1,000s of veterans. So what can we do here in Bergen County on a local level?

As, Bergen County businesses, we are poised to do more than simply salute our veterans; it is our responsibility to be part of the solution. The great news is you can start today.

Below are a list of some resources our panelist assembled to help you and your business get started.

  • Make an organization-wide commitment to hiring and retaining veterans. From top to bottom, and across all departments, a commitment to veterans must be ingrained into the culture of the organization, and often, hiring managers and Human Resource staff need to be trained on the intricacies of hiring veterans.

o    You can partner with the Bergen County Veteran Services for veteran referrals by contacting, Ariel Luna, Director of Veterans Services
  • Create support services for veterans and their families, including increased workplace flexibility programs, and an employee resource group for veterans.
  • Access/training to self-care tools for stress relief and relaxation (i.e. PTSD FREE App / SIG Online Membership Tools) 
  • You can contact Brett Cotter, Stress is Gone or Gabriel Ramos, Director of Engagement at Headstrong Project to assist with establishing usable resources for veterans in the workplace.
  •  Build trust and a relationship with the veteran community. Build visibility among veterans and veteran organizations. State that you are — a veteran-friendly employer. Use your organization’s website to showcase your commitment to veterans. Create a section dedicated to veterans. 
o    Contact Lucy Del Gaudio, Community Captain Team Red, White, and Blue and other local veteran organization to begin building a relationship.

Additional Resources

·         Veterans Employment Toolkit. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

·         The Veteran’s Hiring Toolkit. U.S. Department of Labor

·         From uniform to workplace: your next big victory. Why America’s veterans are great hires -Eli Amdur

Thank you to our incredible experts:
  • EliAmdur, Amdur Coaching and Advisor Group, author of weekly Career Coach column for North Jersey Media
  • Ariel Luna, Director of Veterans Services
  • JuliaOrlando, Director of the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center
  • Gabriel Ramos, Director of Engagement at Headstrong Project
  • Lucy Del Gaudio, Community Captain Team Red, White, and Blue 
  • Brett Cotter, author and founder of Stress is Gone
  • RebeccaMiller Pringle, Keller Williams Town Life Realty 

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