The human mind is a powerful thing. It’s in human nature to judge, jump to conclusions and make assumptions; when these things get involved in the hiring process it can lead to potential employers over-considering their predispositions, misconceptions and implicit biases without even realizing they’re doing so.
What employers sometimes don’t realize is that when they fall into this trap of biases regarding veterans, they are missing out on one of the most gifted, proficient, loyal and hard-working work forces in the nation.
However, organizations are beginning to realize this shortcoming. According to findings from Edelman Intelligence, 76 percent of employers surveyed indicated that they wanted to hire more veterans.
So while organizations are clearly interested in hiring veterans, what is stopping them? It could be some of these common misconceptions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Aggressive nature
- Lack of critical thinking skills
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to Edelman, the general public severely overestimates the percentage of veterans who suffer from PTSD. 70 percent of U.S. adults agree that they don’t understand many of the problems faced by members of the armed forces; while 40 percent believe that at least half of all veterans suffer from PTSD or other similar mental health challenges. However, according to the Bush Institute, the real number of veterans who struggle with mental health challenges is estimated to be about 10 to 20 percent.
Hollywood has been pumping out war movies by the dozens for decades, and very few of those portray members of the armed forces in a fair light. We’re used to seeing servicemembers portrayed as violent, bloodthirsty and angry, yelling in the faces of their subordinates.
While military work can certainly be stressful and require a certain level of emotional fortitude, that doesn’t mean that these are qualities that veterans employ for the rest of their lives. Veterans can, and often do, realize that to have a thriving civilian career, they are going to need to be collaborative, patient, and empathetic with their civilian counterparts.
Lack of critical thinking skills
We all understand that the military structure is laden with protocol, rules and strategy and that the importance of sticking to the rules and protocol is a value that permeates every branch and rank of the military. While the freedoms of reintegrating into civilian life can be jarring for veterans, they are typically excited by the thought of having the freedom to essentially do whatever they want. While they may not necessarily be accustomed to such freedoms, they embrace the opportunity to align their individual preferences and choices with their careers.
Though many veterans have been subject to strict protocol for several years, they have proven that their self-discipline allows them to thrive in professional environments. While some veterans suffer from mental health challenges due to their service, many are able to take their unique experience and translate it seamlessly into their professional endeavors. Moreover, the team-mentality fostered by the military trumps the Hollywood-forged misconceptions about veteran attitudes and behaviors. And though servicemembers are required to undergo strenuous training, they often find themselves in unique situations requiring acute analytical skills.
Ultimately, the caliber of physical, emotional and mental stamina required by servicemembers and veterans would be quintessential to any work environment.