My View: Veterans offer plenty to local workforce

 

On Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed in uniform, risking their lives for the country we love. Unfortunately, when our nation’s veterans return home to their communities from duty, they often have difficulty connecting with careers that fully capitalize on their experience and potential. The impact is that too many Arizona employers are missing out on significant opportunities to enable veterans to contribute to the economic prosperity of Arizona.

 

This “next greatest generation” has the leadership, technical skills and “get-it-done” mindset to positively contribute to the bottom line of any business. Yet when veterans return to civilian life, time and again they fail to connect with career opportunities that take full advantage of their significant skill sets, which often have been honed under the most arduous of circumstances. While veteran unemployment rates dropped in 2017, underemployment remains a problem.  

 

Fortunately in Arizona, there are companies working with nonprofits and the military to help bridge this divide. The Arizona Corporate Council on Veteran Careers was established in 2016 as a freestanding consortium of like-minded businesses intent on supporting veterans in the workplace. 

 

The council’s 20-plus companies are working together to develop and institute best practices for veterans’ careers, including supporting professional development and creating or expanding employee networking groups and mentoring opportunities within individual companies. Many of these businesses, such as USAA, TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Arizona Public Service Co., already have received the Arizona Veteran Supportive Employer ranking, which indicates the highest statewide standard in veteran employment.

Some of these companies also are working together to institute internship and shadowing efforts, such as the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, enabling transitioning service members to intern with Arizona companies while still on active duty.

With Gov. Doug Ducey signing a proclamation announcing the Year of the Veteran Career in conjunction with Veterans Day, Arizona businesses have a special window to seize the national initiative in creating viable and productive career paths for veterans.

During the next year, the Arizona Corporate Council on Veterans Careers intends to work with business leaders around the state to commit their attention and resources around veteran career opportunities. Marrying the comparatively untapped resource of veteran talent with the opportunity of Arizona’s thriving business community will require effort, but in a state with more than 600,000 veterans, there has never been a better time to capitalize on the skill sets of a generation that is ready to work.  

With shared commitment, Arizona’s business community can ensure America’s underused resource of veteran talent is put to great use helping grow our economy. If we give them the chance, veterans will demonstrate the qualities they can bring to any mission or organization, anytime and anywhere.

 

By Don Brandt  –  Contributing Writer