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Land of the Free because of the Brave!

Reflecting on Veterans Day – as a veteran whose grandfather, father, and stepfather served along with an uncle, severely wounded in Vietnam, and now a nephew on active duty – the day has significant meaning to me. But what about the majority of the population who has no connection to the military? What does it mean for them, and would you be shocked or surprised to hear someone say it has no meaning at all other than a free day off from work?

November 11th was declared Veterans Day (first named Armistice Day) in June 1954. Veterans Day is a day in which ALL Americans can pause, even for a second, and be thankful for the military for protecting our freedom, engaging in diplomacy around the world, creating goodwill and serving voluntarily, no questions asked. It is also a day when veterans can see their link to the past. Even those who have been separated for many years will think of their service on Veterans Day.

So, while we are celebrating and appreciating our active duty service members and veterans this month, here are some sobering points from the LinkedIn Veterans Opportunity Report: 

  • 33% of veterans are underemployed. They are employed in jobs below their skill level. This hurts the veteran, their families and the company who is employing them.
  • 38 of the top 50 industries employ veterans at a lower pay rate than nonveterans.
  • 70% of veterans take a step back in seniority because it’s the only offer.

Yet, those employers should take note:

  • Veterans remain with the companies that initially employ them 8.3% longer than nonveterans.
  • Veterans are 160% more likely than nonveterans to have a graduate degree or higher.
  • Military experience exposes individuals to advanced technology and technical training.
  • The military employs people in all professional fields, at every possible career level, yet veterans are an undervalued talent pool in today’s workforce.

Veteran underemployment has severe consequences, and not just for the veteran. The impact carries through their families, their communities and our businesses. Underemployment of veterans actually ends up costing the employer more in the long run. Awareness is a start, but it shouldn’t end there.

There are many actions employers can take to ensure veterans aren’t being left out. It will take less time for a hiring manager to call and ask a veteran to give a brief of their skills than it will to wade through thousands of applicants who did make it through the filters but are not even remotely qualified.

Companies must shift and allow their hiring managers the freedom to explore a military veteran’s background. The return on investment will be exponentially greater when on average, veterans perform at higher levels and have lower turnover. 

Today and every day, we are thankful for ALL veterans as we live in the land of the Free because of the Brave.