In the current economy and with the nation at war, so much has been said about the importance of finding jobs for our veterans when they return home, but employers are learning that the transition from a military uniform to the civilian workplace can have its share of challenges, and that's prompted many to look at new ways to make sure veterans feel at home, at work.
Erik Brine saw 56 countries as an air force pilot, but when he left the military and entered the civilian work force, it was eye-opening.
“You get used to a certain type of leadership style when you're in the military,” says Brine, “a certain structure, a certain expectation.”
The society for human resource management found that civilian employers who've hired veterans like Brine cite qualities like responsibility and ability to work under pressure.
But they also named the top challenges: translating military skills to their new job, and transitioning away from the military structure.
It's not simply as easy as just hiring and showing them to their cubicle and there you go and you automatically get to leverage all these great skills.
So as more servicemen and women return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, human resource experts are looking at new ways to make sure they feel at home, at work.
“This is not just a change of duty station,” says Emil King, of King Street Associates and founder of MyMilitaryTransition.com, “this is a change in everything, and it’s going to be different.”
Emily King's northern Virginia practice offers coaching for veterans, covering things like corporate communication and leadership.
She says help can be as simple as an employer assigning a mentor or arranging an extended orientation.
“The veteran has a different set of opportunities and challenges coming into a civilian organization,” says King “and they won't be addressed in the same way you might orient a brand new employee coming from another company.”
The small efforts can benefit both the employers and veterans.
“They're there to accomplish a mission, to do a job, and they're going to give you a 110 percent.”