The Canyon without a Bridge: Integrating Military Veterans in the Workplace Successfully
Successfully integrating or reintegrating our military veterans and, in many cases, their families into civilian companies and organizations is of growing importance and concern. Yet with many great intentions, our overall track record is somewhat dismal. I would propose that there are a few success stories but many more non-successful outcomes.
Let me explain my thought process by using the analogy of a canyon and a bridge: On one side of the canyon, you have civilian employment opportunities in a variety of arenas. Each of these areas has a culture, a body of knowledge and skills that are an integral part of work, and also a language of phrases and paradigms that allow people to function together. On the other side of the canyon, you have similar but different military service categories, but all of the attributes to work have their own unique skills, knowledge, abilities and structure and language. When a young adult enters any of various branches of service, they are indoctrinated into this environment.
I was recently on a marine base, and the overhead arch entrance proudly stated: “We Make Marines.” Each branch of service creates their own common language and culture in order to achieve their missions. This must be done for everyone to “work” together under extreme and various conditions.
The missing “bridge” is most apparent when one leaves the military active service and seeks employment on the other side of the “canyon.” Unfortunately, there is NO bridge or adequate system to help these veterans translate their military training into traditional employment. In addition, this becomes significantly more complex if a veteran has physical and psychological impairment.
The need for designing and creating a “bridge or multiple bridges” is well recognized. The need is clearly there but, unfortunately, no one owns it or financially supports it well. This will require new thinking and new leadership on a large scale.
We all need to convert good intentions into bridge building. What can YOU or your organization do to build a bridge to successfully integrate military veterans into the workplace?
If you are a military veteran – or an organization looking to more effectively integrate military veterans – contact OI Global Partners today. We can help!
Dr. David Miles, SPHR, CMF, is managing partner of OI Global Partners – The Miles LeHane Companies, which he acquired with his wife and business partner in 1992, following a 25-year career with Marriott Corporation (Saga). Miles LeHane has grown into an international industry leader, focusing on five primary areas of practice: Strategic Management Planning, Coaching, Career Transition, Executive Search, and HR Products and Services. Dr. Miles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.