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Veterans and Reservists Are Your Secret Talent Weapon. But, Careful, You May Lose Them. These people may have extended service responsibilities. They may have personal mental health issues. What is your company doing to help?

By Heather R. Huhman

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When men and women join the U.S. military, they understand that they may give their lives for America. And the service they give, particularly those in the five armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) in war zones, can be tough. So, when these people, together with Reservists and National Guardsmen, come home and rejoin the civilian workforce, they're prime candidates to make a difference.

Related: Discover the Raw Talent of Millennials and Veterans

No wonder so many employers have discovered that these brave individuals make quality employees. This is probably why the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the unemployment rate for vets to be a modest 4.3 percent. That is lower than the national average for all working Americans for the same period. And that alone explains why "hiring a vet" makes total sense.

However, retaining veterans and reservists requires an understanding of their nuanced needs. Thankfully, the following five model companies have it all figured out:

Comcast NBCUniversal

Media and entertainment organization/ Philadelphia

Often, active National Guard and Reserve members still have service responsibilities -- training and military duties -- throughout the year. Employees shouldn't have to chose between their civilian jobs and service careers

Comcast NBCUniversal offers active National Guard and Reserve employees paid time off for their commitments. In the opinion of company leaders, this cost is worthwhile.

"In most cases, the work and roles these individuals do in their National Guard and Reserve units is drastically different from their civilian jobs," Dave Gaulin, director of military and veteran affairs and a major in the Air Force Reserve, said in an email. "As a result, you have a very well-rounded individual with a mix of qualities, skills and abilities that complement each other."

Global Rescue

Evacuation, medical, security, and travel risk management services/ Lebanon, N.H.

Military life and civilian life are different animals. It's not uncommon for veterans to have trouble with this transition. They need to have a culture of support and stability to succeed.

Related: Why Veterans and Civilian Employers Have So Much Trouble Communicating

"Given Global Rescue's culture of acceptance, new personnel transitioning directly from the military are welcomed more naturally in our organization than in some others," Ann Shannon, public relations manager, wrote via email.

The company offers resources and training to help employees translate their military skills. Veterans, National Guard and Reserve members make up nearly a quarter of Global Rescue's workforce thanks to this company's commitment.


Home improvement company/ Chester, Pa.

Sometimes, veterans need the guidance of someone who's already made the transition to civilian life. At Power, each new veteran employee receives a follow veteran as a mentor. The mentor is there to address the mentee's needs as a whole person, not just an employee.

"Sixty to 80 percent of veterans will leave their first post-military job before their second work anniversary," Michael Hansen, vice president of military affairs, said in an email. "Companies looking to make an impact in the veteran space need to evaluate their company's culture."

To do this, Power makes a point to educate every employee about veterans' issues. This program creates a sense of understanding and community for veterans. As a result, veterans and military spouses have a higher retention rate than do average Power employees.

Veterans United Home Loans

Home loans/ Columbia, Mo.

National Guard and Reserve members are often deployed for long periods of time. Those employees shouldn't be forgotten once they're out of the office.

Veterans United Home Loans sends care packages to its deployed employees every few months. Co-workers send favorite snacks, photos and handwritten cards to support deployed team members. And that's not where the commitment to veterans ends.

"Internally, the overwhelming majority of our employees -- more than 90 percent -- contribute at least 1 percent of their paycheck to Veterans United Foundation, which is dedicated to helping military families," Amanda Andrade, chief people officer, said in an email.

Veterans United has won awards for its military-friendly policies. Last year, Glassdoor named it one of the best employers for veterans.

Wells Fargo

Banking and finances/ San Francisco

Veterans who leave the military often need help making plans for their next career step. Many joined the armed forces when they were young. They've never considered what to do long-term when they returned home.

Wells Fargo offers veterans counseling once a year as part of its career options. The company provides resources, tools and information about the company's career-development process. One of these advancement opportunities is the Veterans Diverse Leaders Program. This is a three-day experience that helps veterans prepare for leadership roles.

This focus on the future has helped Wells Fargo retain its veteran employees. According to Jose Garcia, senior vice president and manager of the company's diversity talent acquisition strategy, 54 percent of veteran employees have been with the company more than five years.

"Our commitment to veterans doesn't end once a job offer is made," Garcia said an in email. "The company strives to create a caring culture that supports veteran team members throughout their careers."

Related: Military Veterans Joining the Ranks of Franchise Ownership

Now, that's something worth thinking about next time you tell a veteran, "Thank you for your service."

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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