Why You Should Hire Veterans and How to Do So Successfully

Veterans of today’s military represent a real-time DEI talent play with directly accreditive skill sets to drive your organization. But doing so successfully is no easy task.

In today’s “War on Talent” era, every organization desires to improve its competitiveness and productivity by utilizing a real-time, readily accessible talent pool to enable it. But where can you find such talent? Look no further than the members of today’s military community matriculating from their time spent serving our nation on active duty. Properly placed and utilized, veterans and their spouses—although historically underutilized and often misunderstood—serve as a secret economic weapon. But don’t it for patriotic reasons. Do it for selfish reasons.

Why Hire Veterans?

  • Consider that the nation’s military community comprises approximately 37 million individuals who wield $1.2 trillion in annual buying power (Coray, 2009). Establishing a good reputation among this group would bear significant financial benefits.
  • Counter to prevailing stereotypes, approximately 85 percent of today’s military serves in occupational specialties whose non-combat skill sets are directly accreditive to your organization (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2022).
  • Veterans are perhaps one of the most valuable components of diversity and inclusion efforts. They emanate from an already diverse talent pool (31 percent of active-duty service members come from racial and ethnic minority groups), bring a bevy of transferable skills, and are readily available. With more than 200,000 of them matriculating from the military annually, they represent an ongoing just-in-time talent play (Kamark, 2019).
  • Their impact is palpable. Cumulative Gallup Workplace Studies uncovered a 22 percent increase in productivity at organizations that create inclusive environments that include veterans (Kaplan and Donovan, 2013). Why? The Center for a New American Security found that more than 90 percent of HR managers said veterans are promoted faster than their non-veteran peers and 68 percent said veterans performed better or much better than their non-veteran peers. More than 75 percent also said veterans are easier or significantly easier to manage than their non-veteran peers (Shafer, Amy, Swick, Andrew, Kidder, Katherine, Carter, Phillip, 2016).
  • On average, veterans are more educated than their civilian peers, with 97 percent having a high school education or higher (U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Further, veterans are 160 percent more likely than non-veterans to have a graduate degree or other advanced degree (Boatwright and Roberts, 2022). Most have had hands-on experience, technical training, licenses, and certifications that prepare them for the corresponding civilian certification (Bradbard, Armstrong, and Maury, 2016).
  • The largest group of individuals in the country with security clearances is in the military. Most senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers enter the workforce with an active security clearance, which may be helpful in roles that require it, ease the burden of accessing military installations for recruiting purposes, and provide additional confidence in their authenticity.
  • It is a matter of national security. If military service is not seen as providing a gateway to successful civilian careers, future participants in the nation’s all-volunteer military may be dissuaded from serving. Although veterans make up only approximately 8 percent of the nation’s adult population and just over 6 percent of the civilian labor pool, they have an outsized influence over the future of the country’s all-volunteer force that defends our freedom, protects our liberty, and enables capitalism to thrive (Maurer, 2015).
  • In sum, veterans of the United States Armed Forces have the skills, training, character, and work ethic that most organizations overwhelmingly desire. Veterans demonstrate many “soft skills” such as professionalism, teamwork, interpersonal and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and the ability to solve problems, many of which they developed during military service (The Conference Board, Inc., 2006).

How To Hire Veterans?

Hiring veterans is no easy task. Some organizations have struggled to do so, which may explain why only 20 percent of organizations in the country have programs dedicated to hiring veterans (Maurer, 2015). Elsewhere, many organizations desire to hire veterans, but they have no idea where to start. Successful programs must begin by meeting a single requirement: the dedicated focus and top-down prioritization of time and resources from senior leaders in your organization. From there, the steps follow in more or less this sequence (Louis and Garcia, 2023):

  1. Having decided to support military hiring, talent acquisition professionals, managers, and select peers must undergo some training to understand veterans as a talent opportunity, the culture from which they emanate, and how that background may mesh or clash with your organization. You also must understand regulatory frameworks that apply to your organization’s veteran hiring efforts.
  2. With that understanding, you then can organize and staff a holistic veteran support program, which begins with the formation of a veteran business resource group. This involves appointing leaders who have both a military background and tenure in your organization. It also includes creating content to support the effort.
  3. With the infrastructure assembled, you can begin setting expectations with both internal and external stakeholders. This necessitates decisions on program scope and results in needed momentum and support.
  4. With that alignment, execution can commence on narrowing the optimal sources of veteran talent. Interviewing processes should focus on competencies, while details on compensation and benefits must be made transparent.
  5. Once candidates are selected, a formal onboarding and deployment program should welcome these new hires, augmented by both a mentoring program and the veteran business resource group.
  6. Finally, program outcomes must be measured and celebrated. Apply for award programs and tax credits and leverage their outcomes to burnish your organization’s brand. Share your lessons from this experience with other entities aspiring to do the same.

There are few talent pools more valuable than those emanating from today’s military. You owe it to yourself and your organization to meet these folks halfway with a dedicated hiring program. You represent the economic engine by which veterans can assimilate back into society as productive members and propel themselves, their families, and your organization forward in doing so. Applying these ideas will improve your process of assimilating more of these heroes and increase the cycle of improving your organization’s productivity and beating your competition in the process. It’s a win-win value proposition. Please take advantage!


[i] SheerID, “Marketing to the Military Explained,” Tony Coray, August 9, 2022, accessed November 30, 2022, https://www.sheerid.com/blog/marketing-to-the-military/.

[ii] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Military Careers,

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/military/military-careers.htm. Accessed September 20, 2022.

[iii] Kristy N. Kamarck, “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, June 5, 2019, accessed September 1, 2022, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44321.pdf.

[iv] Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan, The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off (Brookline, MA: Bibliomotion, Inc., 2013), 37.

[v] Shafer, Amy, Swick, Andrew, Kidder, Katherine, Carter, Phillip, (2016, November). Onward and Upward: Understanding Veteran Retention and Performance in the Workforce. Washington D.C.: Center for a New American Security.

[vi] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Table 3: Employment status of persons 25 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and educational attainment, 2021 annual averages. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.t03.htm. Accessed August 26, 2022.

[vii] Melissa Boatwright and Sarah Roberts, “Veteran Opportunity Report: Understanding an untapped talent pool,” LinkedIn, accessed August 26, 2022, https://socialimpact.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/linkedinforgood/en-us/resources/veterans/LinkedIn-Veteran-Opportunity-Report.pdf.

[viii] Bradbard, D.A., Armstrong, N.A., Maury, R., (2016, February). Work After Service: Developing Workforce Readiness and Veteran Talent for the Future (Workforce Readiness Briefs, Paper No.1). Syracuse, NY: Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University.

[ix] Call of Duty Endowment and ZipRecruiter, “Challenges on the Home Front: Underemployment Hits Veterans Hard,” accessed August 26, 2022, https://www.callofdutyendowment.org/content/dam/atvi/callofduty/code/pdf/ZipCODE_Vet_Report_FINAL.pdf.

[x] The Conference Board, Inc., the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resource Management. (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work: Employer’s Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of the New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce. Last accessed, August 26, 2022 at https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED519465. C. Zoli, R. Maury, & D. Fay, Missing Perspectives: Servicemembers’ Transition from Service to Civilian Life — Data-Driven Research to Enact the Promise of the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Institute for Veterans & Military Families, Syracuse University, November 2015).

[xi] Roy Maurer, “8 in 10 Employers Lack Recruitment Programs for Veterans,” Medium.com, May 25, 2015, accessed August 26, 2022, https://medium.com/@HRCaroline/8-in-10-employers-lack-recruitment-programs-for-veterans-3426e6ba72ae.

[xii] Matthew J. Louis with Dr. Anthony R. Garcia, Hiring Veterans: How to Leverage Military Talent for Organizational Growth (Newburyport, MA: Career Press, 2023), xxix.

Matt Louis
Matt Louis is one of the nation’s leading experts in career transition for members of the military community. He coaches individuals on their transition efforts and advises employers on hiring programs designed to successfully assimilate this valuable talent pool. He is the author of the award-winning and best-selling HarperCollins book Mission Transition, a practical guide for veterans in career transition, their families, and their employers. His second book, Hiring Veterans, is a practical guide for organizational leaders on how to build programs to successfully assimilate veterans and military spouses. Matt serves as the veteran Transition Assistance officer for his West Point class, is a National Speaker for the US Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program, serves JPMorgan Chase’s external advisory council for military and veterans affairs, and advises the board of Soldiers To Sidelines. During active commissioned service in the US Army, Matt served in the Southwest Asia combat theater and in the 194th Separate Armored Brigade. During reserve commissioned service, Matt served on the staff of the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and commanded multiple regions around the country for the US Military Academy’s Admissions Office. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the US Army and serves on the Service Academy nominating committee for his local Congressman. Matt holds an MBA in Operations and Finance from The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from West Point, and is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College. He is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and holds the ASCM organization’s Certified Supply Chain Professional designation. Matt is also the President of Purepost, the optimal means for matching talent to available roles in the US economy. He previously led global strategy and transformation projects at Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in the world. Prior to Deloitte, Matt held global operational, production, and quality roles in multiple divisions of both General Electric and Procter & Gamble.