During the month of November our active duty military, veterans and their families are celebrated and honored for their commitment and contributions to our nation. While I value Military Appreciation Month, I also value individuals and organizations taking responsible actions to support both veterans and active duty service members preparing for their transition from active duty to civilian careers.
I believe Military Appreciation is a 24/7/365 commitment.
As a Navy reservist, it is quite typical for me to spend my weekdays focused on my civilian job and spend nights and weekends immersed in military readiness trainings, additional civilian work priorities, volunteer efforts, etc. To balance multiple priorities, I’ve learned over the years to embrace transitions, prepare for them, and expect there to be some degree of chaos along the way, which I consider “welcomed chaos”.
The Merriam-Webster definition of “transition” is a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another. It goes without saying that transitioning can mean something different for us all. That is why the key to managing expected transitions is preparation.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 250,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life each year. Knowing this data point, it is paramount that employers prepare to attract, hire, train and retain such a qualified group of leaders. To do so, I’d encourage everyone to take full advantage of available resources to understand veterans and the value they bring to organizations both large and small.
The SHRM Foundation has recently introduced an Integrating & Engaging Veterans in the Workforce platform, which provides a Recruitment, Hiring, Retention & Engagement of Military Veterans guidebook and a Veterans at Work Certificate Program that provides individuals with the leadership skills to (at no-cost) prepare for a qualified workforce and become a veteran-friendly employer.
Veteran unemployment continues to decline and while this is a metric that is to be celebrated, I believe that if there is one veteran or military spouse unable to find gainful employment then we all have work to do.
When I take off my civilian business suit and transition to my military uniform to fulfill my Navy Reserve responsibilities, it is a dramatically different work environment. I value and truly am honored to serve the United States of America; therefore, I will always advocate for others to thank our service members by preparing to support their transition from active duty service to successful civilian careers. Today, we have the available resources to celebrate Military Appreciation Month every month – let’s get to work!