I try not to talk about it very often although it is one of the things in my life that I am most proud, and yesterday is of course one of those days that I can help but reflect on my time in the U.S. Army. I am a Combat Veteran having been deployed as part of the 172nd Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit that was based out of Omaha, NE, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I came across an article today that reminded me of how unbelievably fortunate I was when my professional life and military life conflicted. After learning of my deployment my then employer Avatech Solutions (now ImaginIt Technologies) agreed to make up any difference between my military pay and my regular salary - unheard of and not even close to being part of the GI Bill. Also, there was never a question as to whether or not I had a job when I got home. My experience is rare however and I owe a debt to my boss at the time, Bill Zavadil that I will never be able to pay back. The knowledge that my wife, 1 1/2 year old son, and soon to be born son didn't have to worry about whether or not we could pay the bills while I was away allowed me to focus on being a soldier.
If you have a minute read this article - Honor Troops by Hiring Them. The unemployment rate amongst veterans is 10% with many claiming it might be as high as 20%. You want to know why I don't wear a hat that has a big old patch on it reading "Iraq Veteran", or don't talk about my experience much with people that I don't know...? It's the things the author points out in this article, and he nails it with "...it's that tired old stereotype of the crazed out vet afflicted with PTSD." As a society we focus on all of the negative aspects and pop culture only accentuates it. Look at the movies and books that cover WWII, and compare those to the ones that cover the current wars.
Saving Private Ryan vs. Stop Loss
Band of Brothers vs. Over There
Believe me I could go on at a personally painful list of examples. I read every book I can find on WWII, yet I can't touch anything that covers my war. Not because I'll have a flashback and start trembling in uncontrollable fear - that's not the reality for the huge majority of us that returned. Nor was it the experience of those that returned from previous conflicts. Now I'm not at all trying to say that the man that returns home is the same man that left - not a chance. In fact that was the turning point for me, the minute I realized that the easier it was for me to transition back to civilian life. The analogy that I'm trying to draw is that we rightfully idolized and made heroes of that generation and as such they played a critical part in the economic boon that occurred thereafter. If they were as whacked out as this generation of returning vets are depicted as today the world would have had a much more difficult time digging themselves out of the conflict.
Now, let me get to my point of this post and why you should consider hiring a vet. Veterans are a unique personality type, and one that is a true asset to any organization. Civilians try their best to understand the level of commitment displayed by those that serve as calling us Patriots, or that we have a high sense of duty, or my personal favorite they do it to "protect my freedom". Sorry, all of those sell a lot of Hallmark cards and yellow ribbons, but believe me it's not why we served. Veterans want to be challenged, find the edge of what they are capable of and move beyond it. You can find that in military service, and it's why the bonds between those that served together is closer than anything most people will ever experience.
A Veterans personality can be summed up as a person that can commit to something he / she believes in so fully and so quickly, that it drives that person to do things even they thought impossible. When objectives are clear, goals well defined, adequately trained and motivated a Veteran is capable of amazing results. Not amazing efforts... amazing results, and if you are in the market to hire please do yourself a favor and seek out and interview veterans.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. There are a few pages on Facebook that I believe can help you in your search.