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Serving Those Who Served: Strategies for HR and Business Leaders to Better Understand Veterans

Serving Those Who Served: Strategies for HR and Business Leaders to Better Understand Veterans

America’s 20.6 million Veterans are full of untapped potential that can help nearly any civilian organization thrive. These former service-members bring unique and valuable skill sets from their time in the military to the business and nonprofit worlds, including teamwork, leadership, discipline, and problem-solving. When you start recruiting Veterans as an HR professional or company leader, you first need to better understand the military culture that they are transitioning from, their work ethic, and the challenges they may face as they first return to civilian life. Without this understanding, you risk setting up your company, your new Veteran hires, and the team they support for serious strife later on.

6 Key Assets Veterans Bring to Civilian Jobs

While the military’s culture may differ drastically from your company’s, the intensity that Veterans are trained to apply to their jobs on a regular basis can help take your civilian organization to the next level. As team leaders and members, Veterans have at least six deeply ingrained traits that are worth considering as potential assets to your workplace:

  • Excellent personal accountability. Veterans’ commitment to follow-through will influence (and maybe even foster competition among) the rest of your team, as they understand how important policies and procedures can be to mission success.
  • A unique type of adaptability. With their experience in ambiguous and challenging military training settings, Veterans are uniquely equipped to overcome nearly any new or difficult situation in the workplace.
  • Combat-tested leadership experience. Veterans are relentlessly dedicated to the success of their teams. The adverse environments they experienced during service makes them quick to develop devoted followings among subordinates and peers alike.
  • Demonstrated self-reliance. The innovation and initiative that Veterans exhibit in their day-to-day performance will ensure they will seek out and weigh all available assets when working to accomplish a goal, perhaps even in ways your company hadn’t previously considered.
  • Unwavering resilience. Veterans are trained to persevere through all types of challenges — personal and professional — to get the job done no matter what. The warrior ethos instilled in service-members does not turn off after transitioning to civilian life. Instead, it drives Veteran employees to excel in the business world and to overcome obstacles and challenges that your company may face.
  • A deep belief in the value of hard work. Indeed, Veterans have spent years — sometimes decades — working tirelessly to protect our nation and the people they love. Veterans as employees will quickly earn your trust by giving any task their all, likely motivating other employees to work harder as well.

No matter your organization’s industry, new Veteran hires are guaranteed to have the interpersonal skills, motivations, and adaptability to move your company toward future success.

Making the Most of Your Veteran Hire From the Start

When you first bring a Veteran onto your team, you’ll benefit from having regular check-ins during at least the first six months. During these chats, be prepared for feedback and questions, as Veteran employees are sure to be vocal about ways that they might better supported or for your team to operate more efficiently.

As a start, here are five strategies you should implement alongside these check-ins if you want to retain the Veteran talent you worked so hard to recruit and then hire:

  • Educate your team. Either before or early on in the onboarding process, brief your leaders and employees about the differences in culture and expectations between the military and civilian sectors. This will help ensure that your new Veteran employees have a comprehensive support network as they learn the ropes. Managers should also be trained to more effectively communicate with former service-members — perhaps even getting to know some military terminology that could help speed up a shared understanding.
  • Build a Veteran-specific process. HR teams should consider designing an onboarding process specifically for Veterans transitioning out of military service. Briefing sessions should clearly address the structure of your organization, provide key points about the reality of the field you operate in (including the pace, major players, and landscape), and offer a quick rundown of the terminology and acronyms they will encounter on a daily basis. Veterans will likely easily pick up on these acronyms, as they are accustomed to using such terms in military life.
  • Foster mentorships. Veterans will appreciate a chance for on-the-job camaraderie, especially in a completely new setting. Developing an informal or formal mentorship program that keeps them connected to others at your organization will remind them of the family-style relationships they once built with their fellow service-members.
  • Connect the dots. Veterans operate with a purpose in mind. You can ensure that your Veteran employees will be more effective by clearly tying their everyday responsibilities to your organization’s overall purpose. Veterans will appreciate seeing their hard work pay off in a big way for your organization.

Has your organization adopted a strategy that worked particularly well (or not so well) for transitioning Veteran employees? Share your ideas in the comments section, or send us an email at info@savivets.org. If you’d like to learn more about how SAVI can help your organization recruit, retain, and engage former service-members, reach out to our team at info@savivets.org.

EDUCATION TRACK

Academic advising, walkthroughs of your VA education benefits … and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans in SAVI’s programs gain access to our carefully developed tools for post-military students, including the SAVI Student Transition Incubator℠, Student Track Transition Program℠, and Student Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our personalized career path determination assistance.

These SAVI instructors and mentors, along with the entire SAVI team, understand that each of our services is vital to a whole life approach to the military-to-civilian transition. We take your unique goals, circumstances, and vision into account as we craft personalized assistance throughout your twelve-month journey with SAVI.  

EMPLOYMENT TRACK

Civilian workplace etiquette, the hiring process, job searches, performance evaluations...and everything in between.

SAVI’s Employment Track delivers start-to-finish support to help Veterans navigate a new career. From skills assessments to professional networking strategies, SAVI offers custom-built tools — including the SAVI Employment Transition Incubator℠, Job Networking & Search Service℠, and Employment Benefit Assessment Service℠ — as well as job retention and mentoring services to help you every step of the way.

These SAVI mentors have been in your shoes and have experience in the unique challenges Veterans may face as they seek employment after service. They are with you every step of the way throughout your twelve-month program, and provide ongoing professional guidance and mentorship throughout your career.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRACK

Value propositions, initial funding, branding, launch strategies… and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive our comprehensive tools for personal business success: the SAVI Entrepreneur Transition Incubator℠ and Entrepreneur Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our opportunity consulting and our funding exploration support.

Through your twelve month journey with SAVI, your mentors will guide you through the Entrepreneurship track while providing unique insight and guidance based on their own experience. Whether you are just starting a new venture, or expanding a passion project you created while in the military, our Entrepreneurship team is here for you every step of the way.

RETIREMENT TRACK

VA compensation and benefits, healthcare, financial planning… and everything in between.

All transitioning Veterans on this track receive comprehensive tools for a successful retirement: the SAVI Retirement Transition Incubator℠ and Retirement Benefit Assessment Service℠, as well as our one-on-one ongoing assistance and assessment services. We’re here to ensure you don’t have to muddle through the financial, personal, and emotional aspects of retirement on your own.

Our Retirement mentors know what it’s like to transition from a steady career to retirement, and want to use their personal and professional experience to help you have a smooth transition. Whether you have questions on finances or healthcare, or the more personal aspects of upkeeping emotional health, we are here for you every step of the way.


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Getting Connected with Your Local Veterans Organizations

If you’re a military Veteran, then you’re a part of a very niche group. Active military personnel make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population today, so it’s not surprising that so many Veterans feel isolated as they start their transitions into civilian life.

Yet this issue isn’t a new one. Since 1899, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and The American Legion were created to offer Veterans a place for camaraderie, to feel empowered, and to help boost troop morale for those still in the service.

Fast-forward to today and Veterans groups have emerged in nearly every community in the country and boast a wide variety of scope and missions — such as the career program by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the suicide prevention work by The Military Veteran Project. The benefits to getting involved with one of these local groups include much more than just gaining buddies to swap war-stories with. Veterans can also get assistance with job placements, career counseling, emotional support, and finding resources for disabled Vets.

Not sure where to begin to find your local Veteran connections? Here’s a list of a few national Veteran groups with various local chapters across the nation.

The American Legion ​
AMVETS
Disabled American Veterans
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Korean War Veterans Association
The Military Veteran Project
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Veterans of Foreign Wars
• Student Veterans of America
• Vietnam Veterans of America

For a more comprehensive list of military charities, organizations, and government contacts, click here.

Get Squared Away: A Comprehensive Checklist for Transitioning Service-Members

18 Months Before Your Discharge
• Review GI Bill and tuition assistance benefits
• Review GI Bill transferability requirements (Transferring your benefits may require re-enlisting or incurring an additional service obligation.)
• Use the DoD Online Academic Skills course to prepare for the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT Exams
• Take a skills/interest assessment through your local ESO or career counselor
• Consider taking CLEP exams to complete your general education requirements
• Reach out to your SAVI mentor for tips from someone who has lived through the transition experience -Start developing your personal and professional networks
• Review your post-separation budget, and start planning for your financial transition
• Register on LinkedIn to get ready for networking opportunities
• Research the job potential, affordability, and community where you plan to live

12 Months Before Your Discharge
• Start developing an Individual Transition Plan
• Review your Pre-Separation Checklist (DD 2648)
• Get your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document (DD 2586)
• Research the cost of living where you plan to live as a civilian-Learn about your VA home benefits -Make an appointment with your local Transition Counselor
• Attend a Transition GPS five-day workshop -Check job boards, and start exploring the right career options for you
• Start exploring the right degree and college for you -Request “house hunting orders”
• Enroll in a SAVI Transition Incubator℠
• Use a skills translator to begin developing a civilian resume

9 Months Before Your Discharge
• Continue building your networks through LinkedIn and elsewhere
• Consider an employment assistance program
• Start writing your resume
• Search for jobs in your field and area to see what’s out there
• Arrange for HHG transportation counseling -Research your healthcare options, including Employer-Provided Civilian Care, CHCBP, Transitional Health Care Benefits, and CHAMP
• Make a budget, and prepare to pay for health insurance coverage

6 Months Before Your Discharge
• Start applying for jobs -Start building a wardrobe for the civilian workplace
• Continue to expand your career networks
• Attend career fairs
• Review and update your will and financial documents
• Consider whether to take terminal leave or sell back your balance
• Schedule appointments for household goods (HHG) shipment and storage
• Schedule final medical checkups for all family members
• Visit the Legal Assistance Office for help updating your documents
• Determine if you’re eligible for separation pay or early retirement
•Begin your PCS and housing checkout procedures -Begin looking for VSOs to join

3 Months Before Your Discharge
• Consider job placement services
• Use the VA Pre-discharge program to determine your eligibility for VA Disability Compensation
• Review your finances to ensure your budget will work in civilian life
• Compare SGLI to VGLI and other life insurance options
• Get to know more about where you plan to live
• Contact your Military Treatment Facility, and get copies of all of your health records
• Complete a physical with your MTF or a VA Medical Center
• Take advantage of the two-day TAP GPS program for education and entrepreneurship support

1 Month Before Your Discharge
• Finalize your relocation appointments, and review your benefits
• Arrange for inspection of any government housing
• Choose your transitional healthcare plan

Enrolling in VA Healthcare

1. Make it easier on yourself: Start with support from VA’s Concierge of Care. Enrolling in VA care isn’t as tough a process as it used to be. In October 2017, VA launched its Concierge for Care (C4C) program to enhance its support for transitioning Veterans in getting VA healthcare. The C4C initiative educates and empowers Veterans while simplifying the healthcare application and enrollment process. This means that, shortly after you separate, you’ll get a phone call from a representative who can answer questions, process your VA healthcare enrollment application, and schedule your first VA medical appointment.

2. Get notified of your application status. After your application is submitted, you’ll receive another phone call from VA to let you know whether your enrollment is approved. VA will also send you a Veterans Health Benefits Handbook with information on your healthcare benefits, Enrollment Priority Group, copay status, and other information you’ll need as a new enrollee. Handbooks also include information for appealing a decision if your initial application is rejected.

3. Get your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). Only Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system can receive a VHIC. Once your application is verified, contact the enrollment coordinator at your local VA medical center to arrange to get your picture taken for the your card either in advance or at your next VA healthcare appointment.

4. Keep your information current after you enroll. Enrolled Veterans can update your personal information (such as income, address, and insurance information) by completing VA Form 10-10EZR online, by visiting a local VA facility, or by calling 1-877-222-VETS between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Project You: Top Self-Development Courses to Take

Create a Perfect Morning Routine
You will learn how to create a morning routine filled with purpose, presence, and peace. You’ll be more energized, productive, and content — all before the start of your workday. Start your morning by doing things that feed your soul and make you happy.

Finding Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
If you’ve been searching for your true purpose in life, Eckhart Tolle has some straightforward advice: Stop struggling. This is because the primary purpose of every human being is simply to be: Be fully engaged in this moment, and be aligned with the natural flow of reality itself.

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential
This course is designed to show you how to look at what you’re learning, and your place in what’s unfolding in the society around you, so that you can be what you want to be. You’ll see that by using certain mental tools and insights, you can learn and do more than you might have ever dreamed.

Achieving Personal and Professional Success
You'll learn how to find your passion and core values, how to apply these values to your own life, how to work well with others, how to communicate effectively, how to set goals, how to use influence to achieve these goals, and even how to say you are sorry. Through exercises, self-diagnostic surveys, quizzes, and many case studies, you'll discover how to define not only what you want, but also the best way to get it. These courses provide key insights into successful personal practices, whether you are in the office or in your home. We all bring ourselves to work every day, and these courses will help you be your best self wherever you are.


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Adrianne Phillips is a service-disabled veteran, who founded Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration (SAVI) as a reaction to the immense need for support of veterans transitioning to civilian life. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a combat service-member and Security Forces, Adrianne transitioned out of the military and into civilian life. During this time, she realized that veterans often make the transition with little or no structural support or guidance. This prompted her to spend over 11 years working in the veterans benefit sector, including working in development, adjudication, training, presenting, quality assurance, and division management. In 2011, she started a corporation focusing on event travel management and corporate business travel. In 2017, she harnessed her experience as a veteran, benefits manager, and entrepreneur to found the Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration with the goal of supporting every service-member’s transition.

Eddy Hansen

Eddy is a retired Marine and a service-disabled veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently manages the development of emerging technologies in the Mission Systems division of General Atomics - Aeronautical Systems Inc.

Having experienced first hand the challenges of transitioning from the military, Eddy is passionate about supporting others through the process. He has spent time volunteering with several veterans support organizations and mentoring veterans individually. He was drawn to SAVI through a deep belief in the mission and to focus his efforts toward a larger impact on the community.

In addition to the SAVI board, he sits on the Board of Directors of BIANCA (non-profit supporting autistic children). Eddy holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business. He lives in San Diego with his wife, two teenagers and a Bullmastiff.

Adrianne Phillips

Adrianne Phillips is a service-disabled veteran, who founded Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration (SAVI) as a reaction to the immense need for support of veterans transitioning to civilian life. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a combat service-member and Security Forces, Adrianne transitioned out of the military and into civilian life. During this time, she realized that veterans often make the transition with little or no structural support or guidance. This prompted her to spend over 11 years working in the veterans benefit sector, including working in development, adjudication, training, presenting, quality assurance, and division management. In 2011, she started a corporation focusing on event travel management and corporate business travel. In 2017, she harnessed her experience as a veteran, benefits manager, and entrepreneur to found the Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration with the goal of supporting every service-member’s transition.

Aloysius Teo

Aloysius is an advisor, project manager, mentor & consultant in business & technology strategy. He works with early-stage startups to develop their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and guiding ideas and concepts into commercially viable solutions. His partnerships with established businesses result in the creation of new verticals and opportunities.

Creative strategist/technologist across multiple industries - healthcare, entertainment & music, MMR, travel, print production, blockchain, crypto-currencies, Big Data & AI. 20yrs technology industry experience and certified AWS APN & mobile technology.

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