Leadership, ability to organize, technically skilled. “These are just a few of the employment-related strengths of military veterans,” says Dan Knowles, co-director, Tristate Veterans Community Alliance. “Yet, the region’s unemployment rate for post-9-11 veterans was 9.5 percent last year, compared to the national jobless rate of 7.3 percent for non-veterans.”
A recent United Way-sponsored breakfast for employers was designed to help bridge that gap and support the Alliance.
“We’ve learned that the only way to make big change, on any issue, is by bringing together diverse stakeholders to focus on aligning and coordinating efforts," says Rob Reifsnyder, United Way of Greater Cincinnati president. “The Vets Alliance is taking this approach to align the hundreds of services in our community and make our region a preferred location for transitioning veterans and their families.”
Knowles says some of the employment barriers vets face are related to a reliance on military titles, terms and acronyms, often unfamiliar to civilians; a background of military culture and structure, including conversational etiquette that may prevent direct personal engagement with an interviewer; and difficulties transitioning to civilian life.
“We supplement the transition training the military provides and work with the vets as well as potential employers to help overcome the barriers,” explains Knowles.
The Alliance’s three main areas of focus when working with employers are hiring (working with human resource managers), on-boarding (working with first-line managers in the new employees’ first days and weeks on the job) and job retention. It has been holding workshops for area businesses for the past year, some industry-specific, including banking and health care. The event at United Way drew representatives from 16 companies.
“As we work toward achieving the Bold Goals in Education, Income, and Health, we know that the success of our area’s 34,000 post-Gulf War vets is critical to our progress. With a little support and better coordinated services, our vets can help us accelerate progress towards our Bold Goals,” said Reifsnyder.