By: Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, PayScale.com
What can a grateful nation do for its veterans? How about give them a job?
Many companies across the United States are making a pledge to hire veterans and active reservists. It's a way to say thank you and, best of all, it's good for the bottom line.
And the job outlook for veterans could be getting better. In his recent tour to promote his jobs bill, President Obama announced that he will push for a tax break for businesses hiring veterans.
The proposed tax credit, called Returning Heroes, would offer up to $5,600 for companies hiring veterans who have been out of work for six months or longer; the Wounded Warriors credit would offer up to $10,000 for companies hiring wounded veterans who have been out of work for the same length of time.
"We ask our men and women in uniform to leave their careers, leave their families and risk their lives to fight for our country," Obama said. "The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home."
Veteran Job Protections
Veterans have job protection under the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. USERRA guarantees active reservists, guardsmen and veterans the right to keep their jobs, or be reemployed at similar jobs, during and after periods of service. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for injured or disabled veterans who are returning to work.
For companies like LadderPort, a small manufacturing firm in Brighton, Mich., adhering to the law is both patriotic and sound financial policy.
"It can be profitable for your company," says Dick Dyk, LadderPort Director of Security. "But you need to think outside the corporate box."
Dyk is a volunteer for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Defense Department Agency that encourages employers to sign a pledge stating that their company will honor the law and reemploy veterans, active reservists and members of the National Guard. The ESGR also acts as an ombudsman, mediating conflicts in the workplace.
LadderPort Operations Manager Michele Oras says that 20 percent of the company’s employees are veterans, active reservists and members of the National Guard. She stresses the benefits that military-trained employees have to offer companies, including specialized skills and abilities that are often hard to find in the civilian workforce, such as:
1. Specialized training
Many veterans have skills that place them in high demand for certain types of jobs in areas like engineering, manufacturing, security, and intelligence. But even the youngest and least senior members of the military have more training than the average entry-level applicant.
All veterans have been through four months of boot camp and many months more of additional, specialized training for their occupation specialty.
2. Team training
Members of the military are trained to work as a team. For manufacturing companies like LadderPort, that's a distinct advantage.
"We need guys that can work together without being on top of each other and willing to be part of the team, rather than I, I, I," says Oras. "The faster they can get our products out the door, the more money we make."
3. Personal responsibility
Returning veterans and active reservists understand responsibility better than most. Very young servicemen and women have huge responsibilities in the military, far beyond the obligations that most of us face at work.
"Everybody always says there's no 'I' in team. Well, that's junk," Dyk says. "It stands for individual responsibility ... And the military creates people that do that better than anybody else."
4. Financial considerations
Even if companies never see a dime in tax breaks, hiring veterans can contribute positively to a company's financial picture. In addition to providing free training in a variety of valuable professional skills, it may also help keep your company in the running for government contracts, says Oras, since it's less likely that the government would award a contract to a company that wasn't in compliance with USERRA.
Learn More about Hiring a Veteran