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Hiring America’s Veterans: Why it’s Good for Business and How to Recruit Top Talent

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Today’s veterans leave the military service with a wide variety of expertise and technical skills, but often there is a significant gap between these abilities and the jobs they end up in. According to a 2018 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report, approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to life as civilians each year. Transitioning out of the military typically involves a series of challenging adjustments, including geographic location, employment, education, family roles, support systems, and social networks.

Many individuals who separate from military service have no idea what they're going to do afterward. Unfortunately, they don’t know how they're going to provide for themselves and their families. In fact, a November 2015 Zoli, Maury, and Fay study reported that more than 8,500 veterans, active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and military dependents identified their most significant transition challenges as the following:

  • 60% found it hard to navigate VA programs, benefits, and services.
  • 55% reported finding a job difficult.
  • 41% found it difficult to adjust to civilian culture.
  • 40% reported difficulties addressing financial challenges.
  • 39% experienced challenges applying military-learned skills to civilian life.

So how can we assist those 55% of veterans who are trying to find jobs and finding it difficult? In this article, we’ll discuss why hiring veterans is good for your business as well as how to recruit top post-military service talent.

Why should my company hire military service members?

Is your organization looking for a hard-working, motivated, and ethical employee? Hiring veterans is a great choice. Why should you hire military service members when it comes time to grow your business? Let’s look at the various contributions veterans make.

Team oriented

    • Veterans come from a culture built for task accomplishment while maintaining integrity and loyalty to their organization.
    • Veterans have already been through rigorous training and have completed it satisfactorily. 
    • The military teaches its members from Day One to think of the team first, not themselves.
    • Veterans will always get the job done correctly and on time with little to no supervision.


    • Veterans are well-versed in small unit leadership, giving them more experience than their civilian counterparts of the same age.
    • Veterans take their responsibilities and assignments seriously and are not afraid to take charge of assignments in the absence of leadership.
    • Veterans are not afraid to openly tell you when something is wrong and provide a potential solution.


    • Veterans are lifelong learners, with 82.8% saying they are likely to pursue additional skills training, certificates, or work credentials to find future employment.
    • Veterans who are transitioned military personnel are trained and accustomed to working in very diverse work environments.
    • Veterans should be your first hire option when searching for highly qualified applicants as they will save you time, money, and training resources.
    • Hiring honorably retired/transitioned veterans is a great way to showcase your brand’s reputation while supporting the military community.
    • Many veterans have active security clearances that prove they are trustworthy and backed by the U.S. government.

How does the federal government cost-share program work?

The federal government provides a cost-share program to help businesses. Two basic types of qualifying veterans will help your business qualify to receive a tax credit for their employment.*

Short-term unemployment credit - If you hire a veteran who’s received unemployment compensation for at least four weeks, you can claim 40% of the first $6,000 in wages. That would be a potential tax credit of $2,400.

Long-term unemployment credit - To qualify, your new hires must be employed at least 27 consecutive weeks. If they work at least 120 hours, you can claim 25% of the first-year wages paid up to $6,000. That gives them a maximum income tax credit of $1,500. If your qualified hire works at least 400 hours, you can claim 40% of the first $6,000 in wages. That would be a potential tax credit of $2,400.

* Disclaimer: Please consult your accountants and finance teams for specific tax-related advice.

Wounded warrior tax credits - Businesses can take advantage of wounded warrior tax credits. Employers that hire veterans with service-related disabilities within a year of their discharge from the military can receive a tax credit of 40% of the first $24,000 in wages for a potential credit of $9,600.

A similar credit is available for businesses that hire a disabled veteran who has received unemployment compensation for longer than six months. The credit can be as high as $9,600 for for-profit employers and $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations.

There is no limit on how many eligible employees you can hire and receive credit. For instance, if you hire five veterans with service-related disabilities who have been unemployed for at least six months, your tax credit ($9,600 x 5) would be $48,000.

Why is it a win-win for veterans and businesses to work together through the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program?

For those commissioned officers, warrant officers, senior non-commissioned officers, or enlisted personnel who are transitioning from military to civilian life within 180 days, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has developed the SkillBridge Program. This program matches civilian opportunities for job training and work experience at the end of military duties. In addition to Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill program, veterans can enhance their marketability and post-separation career prospects. They continue to receive military compensation and are still covered by their military benefits.

Making the Career Transition with the Merit Career Program

For someone who has been in the military for some time, he or she has not done a resume in a while. Recruiting and hiring techniques have very often changed when it comes to what employers are looking for. Veterans need to tailor their job searches exactly to the position they're looking at.

Merit has created the Merit Career Program (MCP) to make it easy for service members to transition to the private sector and enable you to take full advantage of top talent. The MCP is open to all service members, veterans, military spouses, and family members from any career field or location.

The MCP is an eight-week structured online course using blended modular learning techniques that address various learning styles. Each weekly one-hour module covers instructional videos, discussion boards, writing assignments, live training, and an end of the week quiz.

Each week is broken down as follows:

  1. Military Culture vs. Civilian Culture
  2. Basics of Interviewing
  3. How to Build a Resume
  4. Dress for Success/Tough Questions
  5. Mock Interviews with the Talent Acquisition Department
  6. Mock Interview Feedback
  7. Understanding an Offer
  8. Personal Networking

The curriculum allows for mentorship from teachers, partner companies, and other volunteers.

MCP Performance results

There are successful results for the MCP with 181 Merit University service members, 10 Merit fellows, and 7 hires taking part.

Recognizing the talents and contributions of our veterans

It is our great honor to recognize the talent and contributions of America’s veteran community, especially those who work alongside us at Merit. Veterans are found in almost every team at Merit and make up over 10% of our coworkers. Veterans make Merit a better place which is one of the many reasons why we’re passionate about facilitating successful public to private sector transitions of military servicemen and women and their families.

How can you get involved?

How can you leverage Merit’s Career Program at no cost to find and recruit candidates from this incredible pool of fellow Americans?

You can get involved in Merit’s MCP in several ways:

  • As an individual: Volunteer your time to become a mentor, resume editor, or a class host.
  • As a business: Become an MCP Partner company.
  • As a military service member: If you’re a military serviceman or woman who is looking to make the transition to the private sector, apply to our program as a Fellow.

About John Scott: A former U.S. Army recruiter, John participated in the Merit Fellowship Program as an Account Manager and has since become Merit’s Director of Recruitment. John has been a key member in creating the Merit Career Program from scratch and sees it as a way to ease the transition anxiety of military service members and their families into civilian life.

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