Workforce: Support Our Troops

Sept. 1, 2008
The best way to support our troops is to hire them when they come home. Here are 10 ways veteran employees can benefit businesses.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has launched an informative Web site devoted to helping disabled veterans—particularly those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan—succeed in the workforce. The returning service members targeted by the site are living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The site is the result of collaboration among the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service as well as the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Education, the Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration, among others.

“The changing combat landscape has caused a sharp increase in TBI and PTSD, which are increasingly recognized as leading injuries of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom,” according to the Web site. “Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women will be coping with the challenges of TBI and PTSD as they reenter civilian life, today and for many years to come.”

The DOL recognizes that these individuals often face difficulty finding and keeping the work that can help improve their lives. “For wounded and injured veterans, employment can play a significant role in the road the recovery,” according to the DOL. “So, to help our returning service members succeed in the workplace, America’s Heroes at Work is engaging in a targeted education campaign designed to increase awareness of TBI and PTSD issues among the workforce system and to educate employers on workplace accommodations they can make for these employees.” The Web site—located at www.americasheroesatwork. gov—offers a variety of educational resources to improve employment-related outcomes for returning service members. Fact sheets, Web-based tools, educational presentations and more are designed to help dispel the myths about TBI and PTSD and educate employers on ways they can help those returning from active duty.

“Veterans make excellent employees for a variety of reasons, including leadership, teamwork

Economy’s Biggest Threat: It’s Not What You Think

Stratospheric oil prices. A weak U.S. dollar. The credit crisis. These are the biggest dangers facing manufacturers and the U.S. economy in general, right? Wrong. Manufacturing has a much tougher enemy to battle in the years ahead. A surprising new study shows that the lack of skilled labor and management skills in the workforce is the biggest threat.

In a recent poll, 27% of executives cited a lack of employee skills as the leading obstacle to growth. Ranked second was oil prices (cited by 20%), followed by tax policies (11%), a weak U.S. dollar (10%), the financial commitment in Iraq (9%) and the credit crisis (7%).

The 166 executives surveyed were also asked to name the two best ways to attract greater numbers of young people to manufacturing careers. More than half— 58%— said competitive wages. More parental and teacher encouragement ranked second, at 27%, followed by offering more relevant science and math programs in high school and college (23%) and greater use of computer and high-tech skills (22%).

Product innovation and production efficiencies are priorities for manufacturers, too, according to the research results. Some 22% said developing more innovative products, and 21% cited improving production efficiencies, as actions companies must take to better compete in the global marketplace. Also ranked highly were offering more cost-competitive products and responding more effectively to overseas competition, each named by 15% of survey respondents.

The study was conducted by sponsors of the Fabtech International and AWS Welding Show including Metalform, which takes place Oct. 6-8 in Las Vegas. It is reportedly the largest event in North America dedicated to metal forming, fabricating, stamping, tube and pipe and welding equipment and technology.

“In many respects, this finding is not surprising, as we have heard for many months from leaders in the metal forming, fabricating and welding industries that their biggest challenge today is finding skilled workers, especially young people, who can tackle the increasingly sophisticated tasks required in manufacturing today,” says John Catalano, show manager at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

experience and their accelerated learning curve,” according to the DOL. “In addition, there are often tax incentives available to help employers cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities and to make their places of business accessible.”

A related Web site,, introduced by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, offers the following 10 reasons employers should consider hiring veterans.

  1. Accelerated Learning Curve Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they enter the workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, proven in realworld situations. This background can enhance your organization’s productivity.
  2. Leadership The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. Veterans understand practical ways to manage behaviors for results, even in the most trying circumstances. They also know the dynamics of leadership as part of both hierarchical and peer structures.
  3. Teamwork Veterans understand how genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues. Military duties involve a blend of individual and group productivity. They also necessitate a perception of how groups of all sizes relate to each other and an overarching objective.
  4. Diversity and Inclusion in Action Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals, regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion and economic status as well as mental, physical and attitudinal capabilities. They have the sensitivity to cooperate with many different types of individuals.
  5. Efficient Performance Under Pressure Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources. They have developed the capacity to know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress. They know the critical importance of staying with a task until it is done right.
  6. Respect for Procedures Veterans have gained a unique perspective on the value of accountability. They can grasp their place within an organizational framework, becoming responsible for subordinates’ actions to higher supervisory levels. They know how policies and procedures enable an organization to exist.
  7. Technology and Globalization Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry. They can bring the kind of global outlook and technological savvy that enterprises of any size need to succeed.
  8. Integrity Veterans know what it means to do an honest day’s work. Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances. This integrity translates into qualities of sincerity and trustworthiness.
  9. Conscious of Health and Safety Standards Thanks to extensive training, veterans are aware of health and safety protocols, both for themselves and the welfare of others. Individually, they represent a drug-free workforce that is cognizant of maintaining personal health and fitness. On a company level, their awareness and conscientiousness translate into protection of employees, property and materials.
  10. Triumph Over Adversity In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, veterans have frequently triumphed over great adversity. They likely have proven their mettle in mission-critical situations demanding endurance, stamina and flexibility. They may have overcome personal disabilities through strength and determination.

Green Gloves

Magid Glove & Safety Manufacturing Co. (Chicago) has found a way to make industrial gloves green, not in terms of color, but in terms of eco-friendliness.

The company’s Bamboo ROC gloves are manufactured with a fiber shell made entirely of bamboo, one of nature’s most sustainable resources, according to the company.

An extremely hardy plant, bamboo grows quickly and without the aid of pesticides and fertilizers, allowing it to be harvested every few months. Further, the bamboo pulp fiber used in the manufacture of bamboo gloves is made without environmentally harmful chemicals. Unlike synthetic fibers, bamboo is not petroleum-based, which is becoming more important in a world of high oil prices and dwindling reserves, according to Magid Glove & Safety.

Two industrial-grade styles—the Bamboo ROC GP169 and GP199—are available. Bamboo ROC GP169 gloves feature a bamboo, seamless, brown machine-knit shell with a foam-nitrile palm coating, and Bamboo ROC GP199 gloves feature a 100% bamboo seamless blue machine knit shell with a foamlatex palm coating.

The gloves have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which reduce bad odors and irritants on contact. In addition, the porous structure of the fiber wicks moisture away from the skin. The result is gloves that keep hands cooler, drier and more comfortable in a wide range of industrial applications, the company says.

“With more and more corporations launching green purchasing initiatives, PPE [personal protective equipment] buyers striving to comply will find Magid’s new Bamboo ROC gloves a superb option that doesn’t compromise on performance,” says Adam Cohen, executive vice president of Magid Glove & Safety. “Unique and innovative, Bamboo ROC gloves deliver hand protection that is functional, comfortable, stylish and environmentally friendly.”

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