The road from the battlefield to steady employment at a major company can be littered with landmines—I should know. After serving for five years in the U.S. Army and making a quick detour into advertising, I eventually graduated from Columbia Journalism School and now work as a reporter and producer for Yahoo Finance. However, many veterans aren’t so lucky. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 453,000 veterans were unemployed in 2016. Of those, 36% were between the ages of 25-44.
Many new vets grapple with substandard transitional programs, predatory for-profit educational institutions that squander hard-won GI Bill benefits, and an ongoing struggle to reconcile mission-based military service with the financially-driven private sector.
Ahead of Memorial Day, I spoke with Mike Schindler, a US Navy veteran and the author of U.S. Veterans in the Workforce: Why the 7% are America’s Greatest Asset, about what companies should know before hiring veterans and why they make good employees. In our conversation and in his book, “mission over money” emerged as a major theme for veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce. Schindler also touched on different ways companies can utilize the unique experiences veterans bring to the table. “A good company focuses on the value that a veteran brings to it,” he said. “Their traits, their experience, and how they can leverage that for success.”