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Why a Veteran Could be the Best Hire You Ever Make


This coming Friday is Veteran’s Day, and it is a day that has always held special meaning for me. You see, I am a veteran. When I was 19 years old I joined the U.S. military, and for the first time in my life I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the guy on the poster: defending freedom; our nation; making a difference. Because as we all know, freedom isn’t free.

The military forges you: it takes raw metal, throws it into a furnace; and, through a very unpleasant process, if you’re lucky you come out the other end forged. For the people who really know me, I have long credited that forging with creating the man I am today. I have my fellow veterans to thank for the person I’ve become and how it’s shaped my thinking for the last 28 years.

I believe that the military experience provides a unique perspective, and this perspective creates a certain kind of person: a leader. You learn that you lead from the front. You learn that there is a difference between being in charge and a being leader. You learn that to be a good leader, you need to be a good follower. You realize the need to take feedback from others. You value the trust that comes when you are able to admit when you’re wrong. You find strength in the expression of empathy. You are humbled by the realization that you can never have all the information needed to make the perfect decision – sometimes good enough, has to be enough. Being in charge simply meant you had a title or rank; I learned to respect rank even if I didn’t respect a person.

Being a part of the military teaches you things about yourself you never knew. It teaches you to, and this is blunt, know your own &[email protected]! You learn the validity of practice making perfect. But you don’t only learn things about yourself, you learn to value being part of a team and to trust that team above all else. Your inner voice shifts from one of a “me” perspective, to one of a “we” perspective. Your motto becomes, “we fight like we train.” You believe trust in your fellow soldier is paramount: trust your buddy…. trust your team; and you are now part of a team of teams.

These lessons, that help to keep our military members safe and productive during their military service, translate to shape veterans who become valuable employees who see the importance of being thoughtful team members. And in the professional world, the appreciation of the value of a team is priceless. I believe high-performance teams can accomplish anything. How can you create a high-performance team? A team is really about chemistry and trust and knowing how to get the best from each other. No one knows how to do that, and what it really means, like a veteran.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the jobless rate for all veterans was at 4.6 percent. That number had declined from the previous year, and that is a sign that our country is moving in the right direction. I encourage every government agency and private sector company and organization to give strong consideration to veterans when filling positions. I know that my military service – which was a defining moment in my life, and is a great source of pride for me – helped to shape me into the leader I am today. I hope every veteran gets the opportunity to bring the benefit of their military experience to an excellent job position and career. What a testament that would be to our national sense of respect for our veterans’ service.

Jeff Peters is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Richard Regan

A veteran could be the most biased hire you make. In 2014, the US Merit System Protection Board released a report entitled “Veteran Hiring in Civil Service: Practice and Perceptions.” The findings of the study confirmed what many of us are afraid to admit-bias exists in veterans preference hiring. Even the biggest cheerleader of veterans preference, the Department of Defense agreed with the report’s conclusion.

I don’t begrudge hiring veterans for federal employment. However, we should not give them special preference for a job over anyone. What’s next, preference hiring for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics.

The same proponents of veterans preference hiring are some of the biggest critics of affirmative action hiring. Go figure.

Let’s provide employment to our veterans without giving them a special advantage. We dishonor their service by thinking they are afraid of competition.


100% whole-heartedly disagree with you. Compare me to Podunk Sherry off the block with the same qualifications, I better get the job because of my military preference. I signed the line to give my life for this country (and still am). Unlike some of my fellow soldiers, I have be lucky enough not to pay the ultimate sacrifice they have. RIP Smith, Cavaco, Joyce, Kowalewski, Pilla, Ruiz, French IV, Pucino, and many others. Yes, I want a special advantage to work for the federal government. I don’t deserve it, yes, but it is nice to support veterans that gave up civilian careers to serve. Veterans that delayed college educations to serve. Veterans that gave you your freedom of speech, religion, etc.

Mark Hammer

In a sense you’re both right. There is a difference between ethical responsibility, which T.O. rightly highlights, and goodness of fit. I would think that even vets would agree that if they were operating a business or other organization, they’d rather hire someone who *knows* that business and is eager and skilled, than someone who is similarly eager and skilled, but has never functioned in that sort of organization or business line and will take a while to bring up to speed. The extent to which ethical responsibility trumps the degree of anticipated disruption or learning curve, or the extent to which anticipated smoothness of entry *ought* to trump ethical responsibility, is a decision hiring managers need to make. I don’t think it is an easy decision, and I don’t hold the ethical responsibility in any less regard. EVERYBODY wants a public service that functions well, and doesn’t allow organizational knowledge to be squandered. They also want a public service that appropriately recognizes sacrifice and responsibility. When both objectives can be met in the same hire, it’s a beautiful thing.

richard regan

Let’s give African Americans job preference for the sacrifice they made for slavery. Let’s give Japanese citizens job preference for being placed in internment camps. Let’s give Jewish people preference by ignoring the Holocaust. Let’s provide all American Indians with preference in light of the fact we took their land and committed awful atrocities of genocide and cultural assimilation against them.

Where does preference stop if we base who gets a job on what previous sacrifice they have made?


I see your point. That is a potential risk but one that applies to all candidates not just veterans
While some military jobs like diesel mechanic, IT tech, steam tech, cyber security, accounting, etc transfer to the civilian world many jobs do not. Bomb loader, tank driver, [redacted due to classification], psy ops, etc do not.
Service member gave up time to serve. They should not be put at the back of the line.
One other thought – many have done their job not in the corporate world, but out in the field. Its one thing to fix a laptop in the office. Its another to fix a laptop out in the middle of no where in hostile territory where there is no tech support and all supplies have to be come by convoy.
Kind regards.
Nov 10th. Happy Birthday Marines

Jeff Peters

Great points. And you are right, veterans aren’t afraid of competition, they just want to be offered a chance to compete. I know that all of us appreciate their service. Happy Veteran’s Day!