The Value of Veterans

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By: Marillyn Hewson (CEO and President at Lockheed Martin)

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With one million members of the armed forces expected to make the transition to civilian life over the next four years, it’s time for businesses to commit to helping veterans establish successful, rewarding civilian careers.

Our veterans have earned our support, and not just because of their service to our nation. They’ve earned it through their proven leadership, their strong foundation of values and their demonstrated performance. Veterans have a lot to offer any organization.

Connecting Veterans with Meaningful Opportunities

Supporting veterans starts with connecting them to meaningful job opportunities. We’re proud to support and participate in several organizations that do just that.

Last year we joined GE, the Manufacturing Institute, Alcoa and Boeing on a new collaborative program called Get Skills to Work. The mission of this program is simple: join major manufacturers and educators to train U.S. veterans to fill 600,000 open jobs in advanced manufacturing. A full 82 percent of manufacturers report they cannot find the right people to fill their skilled production jobs. Veterans – who bring thorough training, expertise and experience – are the ideal candidates to meet that need.

Another outstanding program for veterans is Hiring Our Heroes. Launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2011, Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative designed to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.

Any business can get involved in connecting veterans with meaningful opportunities through these initiatives or countless other organizations that are helping veterans find jobs.

I’m proud to report that one out of every four Lockheed Martin employees is a veteran. They are successful engineers, financial analysts, IT professionals, manufacturing leads, test pilots and top executives.

We hire veterans because our experience has proven again and again that veterans make outstanding employees. Veterans have already been tested under high-pressure situations, are strong leaders and team players, and they are committed to the mission.

Every business in America, large or small, can benefit from individuals who bring these valuable traits.

Supporting the Transition to Civilian Life

Because we employ so many veterans, we understand that the transition to a civilian career isn’t always easy. It can be a big change. The culture, the organization, the processes, the vocabulary, and even the dress codes are very different from those in the military.

Businesses that want to hire veterans should also be ready to support their transition. That means helping managers understand the unique needs of veterans, or providing mentors and networking opportunities to connect them with other vets.

At Lockheed Martin, for example, we host an annual Military/Veterans Leadership Forum, and have a network of veteran employee resource groups across the corporation. Last year, one of our regional resource groups created a Veterans Mentoring Program for newly-hired employees with military service. This program matches experienced veteran employees with new-hire veterans to help make their transition successful.

These initiatives are relatively simple and cost-effective to set up, and they make a real difference for veterans.

On November 11, the United States celebrated Veterans Day. It’s an opportunity to recognize and support the contributions veterans have made to our nation. I think a great way to honor veterans is to support their pursuit of a fulfilling career outside the military.

I’d like to hear what your companies are doing to support veterans, and what ideas you have about how businesses can join together to do even more.

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