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Veterans Can Be Heroes Off the Battlefield Too

Veterans can bring great value to the civilian workplace, in terms of technical skills and leadership abilities.

Josh Cable is the editor of Counterman at Babcox Media. He has been working in the field of journalism as a full-time editor and reporter since 1999.

The brave men and women who serve in the U.S. military are accustomed to facing and overcoming adversity during their service. For many veterans and service members, however, transitioning back into civilian life can present a new set of challenges.

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One of the biggest challenges is assimilating back into the workforce. As veterans look for employment, many struggle “to communicate, in nonmilitary terms, about the skills they have developed,” according to an online toolkit published by the Rand Corp. “Many veterans may not even realize the extent to which training, education and on-the-job experiences in the military have helped them build skills that make them competitive for civilian jobs.”

The reality is that veterans and service members bring an incredible amount of value to the civilian workplace, in terms of nontechnical and technical skills. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs lists a number of the strengths and characteristics that veterans bring to the workplace, including:

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  • Working well in a team – Teamwork is considered an essential part of daily life and is the foundation on which safe military operations are built.
  • Having a sense of duty – Responsibility for job performance and accountability for completing missions are core values for members of the military.
  • Experiencing self-confidence – Holding a realistic estimation of self and ability based on experiences is expected of each service member.
  • Being organized and disciplined.
  • Possessing a strong work ethic – In the military, the mission always comes first.
  • Having the ability to follow through on assignments, even under difficult or stressful circumstances.
  • Possessing a variety of cross-functional skills, such as extensive training on computer programs and systems, interacting with various people with different skills to accomplish a task, and coordinating and troubleshooting problems in novel and known conditions.
  • Being able to problem-solve quickly and creatively.
  • Being able to adapt to changing situations.
  • Being able to follow rules and schedules.

I’m proud to say that I work in an industry that’s making a concerted effort to hire our veterans and service members. Advance Auto Parts, for example, says it employs more than 4,200 veterans, and supports veterans-focused nonprofits such as Building Homes for Heroes and Veterans Bridge Home. “Veterans are successful in a number of roles within our company,” says Natalie Rothman, Advance’s EVP and chief human resources officer. “These extraordinary men and women work as field leaders supporting our DIY and professional businesses, in our distribution centers and our corporate support center. Additionally, we’re proud to know several military veterans who own and operate their own Carquest Auto Parts locations.”

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NAPA Auto Parts proclaims that “transitioning military personnel, veterans and military family members find great success in careers with NAPA.” In addition to providing employment opportunities for veterans and their family members, NAPA Auto Parts supports the important work of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund through NAPA’s “Get Back and Give Back” campaign, launched in 2012. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is a not-for-profit organization that serves U.S. military personnel experiencing the invisible wounds of war: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS). Over the years, NAPA and its vendors have raised millions of dollars to support the construction of regional Intrepid Spirit Centers that can diagnose and treat TBI and PTS, helping servicemen and women to continue to serve on active duty and enjoy a productive life.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the efforts of AutoZone, which “proudly hire[s] thousands of service members and veterans each year,” according to the company, and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The November-December 2020 edition of Search & Employ, a publication dedicated to veteran employment, features Chuck Rogers, a U.S. Air Force veteran and vice president of professional sales at O’Reilly. In the article, Rogers expresses his appreciation for the way O’Reilly supports and recognizes veterans throughout the company.

Thank you to all of our veterans and service members for the sacrifices you’ve made for all of us.  

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