Story Ideas About Veterans in the Workplace

by December 13, 2016
Business reporters can find rich stories in veterans returning to civilian life and entering the corporate world. (Image by "BookBabe" via pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

Business reporters can find rich stories in veterans returning to civilian life and entering the corporate world. (Image by “BookBabe” via pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

Growing numbers of armed services veterans have found an excellent home for their skills in corporate America, and many large companies are attracting and retaining veterans through carefully crafted programs. This blog explores some of the core business news stories around veterans in the workplace.

Explore the corporate efforts to welcome veterans

Increasingly, large U.S. corporations have created programs to welcome veterans to the workplace, and retain them. Consider the following examples:

Walmart has hired more than 150,000 veterans since 2013 through its “Veterans Welcome Home Commitment,” and promoted 19,000 more. The company plans to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020.

The Walt Disney Company’s Transitions Program, initiated in 2012, has hired more than 3,000 veterans to date.

Companies including General Electric and J.P. Morgan Chase help veterans gain computer course technical certifications. J.P. Morgan Chase also cofounded the Veterans Jobs Mission, a coalition of 235 companies collectively committed to employing U.S. veterans. As of November 2016, 235 companies participating in the mission have hired 360,000 veterans; 11,000 were brought on by J.P. Morgan Chase.

Share the basic data

Finding reliable sources of data on veterans is tricky. But a Google search yielded the following numbers:

More than 20 percent of veterans remain unemployed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

45 percent of active service members hail from rural America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Over 22 million women and men veterans live in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs most recent (2014) data.

20 percent of veterans last year had a disability related to their service.

Report on the success stories

More veterans are entering corporate America; however, even successful companies acknowledge that there are specific challenges in moving from the military to the corporate world. Retired Marine Corps officer Justin Constantine is just one advocate ensuring corporations do the job right when bringing veterans into their teams. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Constantine notes companies that do the best job spend time understanding the most effective way to communicate with veterans, many of whom bring valuable skill and practices sets to the workplace.

Understand the two cultures

Within your reporting, also acknowledge the difference between corporate and military culture. For instance, when writing for Guardian Sustainable Business on the need for corporate America to hire more veterans, I learned that many veterans find corporate meeting culture difficult, due to managers not directing the team efficiently, not stating directly what they want or need, and not taking action. In combat, veterans receive clear, succinct directions. Receiving less direction from a superior can feel confusing and off-putting. Veterans also tend to speak very directly. When asking for a clear directive from a manager, a veteran can come across as abrasive.

This link from the U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs offers ways for employers to determine whether their workplace is veteran friendly.

Look into MBA programs for returning vets

Another often unreported angle is the role that MBA programs have in helping veterans integrate into the workplace. This article outlines some of the big moves within business education to support veterans, including a $15 million endowment gift which helped NYU Stern launch its Fertitta Veterans Program. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business runs a standalone two-and-a-half-week certificate course called the Next Step: Transition to Business Program, specifically aimed at educating veterans and others with non-business backgrounds.


Reporter’s Takeaways

• Dig into the basic data to learn how numbers of returning veterans might impact the civilian workforce.

• Investigate the special programs large corporations such as Walmart and J.P. Morgan Chase offer; look into the growth of certification programs for returning vets, and report on the targeted support MBA programs offer veterans,

• Talk to both veterans and employers about the different working cultures in the military and civilian life, and which challenges and opportunities exist.