Chain of Thought

If Employing Veterans is Charity, the Employer is the Beneficiary.

MH&L posted a couple news items this week about material handling equipment vendors promoting “Hire veterans” programs. Specifically, Toyota Material Handling (TMHU), Hyster and Yale chose Veterans Day to announce their respective initiatives. These are great examples for employers to follow.

TMHU issued $200 training discounts to 118 veterans this year through their Operator Safety Training discount program. And as part of their “Giving Veterans a Lift” program, for every veteran hired by a Toyota dealer as a service technician, the company will match a dealer’s donation (up to $500) to Hire Heroes USA, in honor of the newly hired veteran. This program provides transition and job search assistance, and job placement services, to those who have served in the U.S. military and to their spouses.

Hyster and Yale are working with Snelling Search’s Military Division to recruit veterans, and since November 2011, Hyster dealers have hired 32 and Yale 29.

TMHU’s president, Jeff Rufener, noted that since the inception of his company’s programs 139 veterans have taken advantage of them. “We hope that many more can learn a new job skill or bring their expertise to our dealerships,” he said.

Notice what he said there—bring their expertise. That’s a key point for veterans, because as patriotic as these programs are, they shouldn’t be seen as charities. Veterans have learned many marketable skills during their service, both from a business standpoint and from a human standpoint. Being a team player covers both of those, so employers stand to benefit greatly by hiring veterans.

Dr. Harry Croft, a former army doctor and a psychiatrist, wrote a book called “I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall.” According to a recent AP story, he often fields questions from employers who aren’t sure they want to hire veterans due to concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Among the long list of pointers he gives these companies is this one:

Don’t hire veterans because it’s a tax break, it’s the patriotic thing to do, it’s good for business, or because you feel sorry for them. “Their goal isn’t to be considered a charity project, but to have an opportunity to prove they are the right person for the job,” he said.

Veterans Day was several days ago, but there are veterans looking to return to the workforce every day. If one of them knocks on your door, think of that sound as opportunity—for both of you.

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