Beyond one day: celebrate veterans

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Michigan has an advantage when it comes to veteran talent. According to michigan.gov, in 2012, there were about 635,000 veterans in Michigan, representing 8.8% of the state’s total adult population. Veterans raise a company’s workforce to the next level in many areas, including leadership and teamwork, problem-solving and decision-making, honesty, attention to detail and global perspectives. Veterans are built differently. They bring grit, drive and experiences that set them apart from other potential employees.

Companies that make proactive efforts to support veterans have seen benefits beyond just Veterans Day. Many Grand Rapids-area companies often struggle to find high-talent, driven and motivated employees. Our veteran population offers a wide variety of key skills and hands-on experience. These veterans have worked in diverse fields such as critical analysis, crisis management, information technology, transportation logistics, supply-chain management or public relations and have learned the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

As companies begin to engage with the veteran community and implement veteran-focused recruitment programs, they must ensure they understand the differences between military and civilian work experience. This is critical to create a fair and balanced recruitment process that honors the skills gained in service.

Beyond Veterans Day and hiring veterans, companies should also look to ways they can support their local veterans. At Rockford Construction, we have established a Veterans Committee of six employees. The committee’s goal is to ensure we are reaching our local veteran community through events, fundraising, supply support and beyond.

For Veterans Day, we adopted a platoon and gathered a list of needs to be shipped off to those currently serving. Additionally, throughout the year, we work to offer support such as building a ramp at a Veteran’s home or using our resources to make their lives easier. As a veteran myself, I have been in their shoes and am proud to work for a company that hires veterans. We currently have 17 companywide and give back to veterans beyond Veterans Day.

Veterans have risked it all to serve our country — the least we can do is give back. The federal Veterans Employment Initiative, Executive Order 13518, states, “Veterans have served and sacrificed in defense of our Nation. When they complete their service, we must do everything in our power to assist them in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Government as well as private employers should play a prominent role in helping veterans who may be struggling to find jobs.”

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