After a late night of enjoying a cigar and whiskey, I was talking with a friend with whom I had fought with in Iraq. He let me know that one of our friends from our unit was moving into the area. He then said to me something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about,
“I want all of our guys to do good. I hate seeing them struggling, which a lot of them are. We have an advantage over everybody else and these guys need to know that.”
At face value, I wanted to accept his view that we as veterans have this huge advantage over everybody else. But having been in the workforce for some time, having helped veterans find jobs, having talked with recruiters, having reviewed more resumes for jobs than I can count, and having read fellow Inveterate Veterans write about their job search experience, I’m left wondering if the veteran advantage is real?
Think about that for a second. Really think about if our time in the military has provided us with a significant advantage over our civilian peers. Sure we can talk about our leadership, integrity, mission focus, yada yada yada, but how many veterans upon taking up their first civilian job take a step up the career ladder, rather than a step backwards?
After five years of being out of the military, and having worked for some respected companies, I still find myself caught in the trap of proving the value of my military experience to recruiters.
Like many things in life, the question of if the veteran advantage is real is multifaceted. On one side our service has provided us with experiences that few if any of our civilian counterparts have ever experienced. Our service prepared us to be leaders. On the other side, very few of us come out of the military and are ready to move into a civilian career. Many of us spend years busting our butts to get back to where we were while in the military.
Monetarily, Position wise, etc.
So what is this veteran advantage that many of think that we have? From what I’ve seen its our network. The reality is that the minute we were honorably discharged from the military, we joined one of the largest, most tightly knit alumni group in the nation. The real advantage we have, is that on the whole, our community looks out and wants to help one another. There is a bond that we share and it’s this bond that first prompted veterans to help me make it to where I am today and it’s the same bond that makes me want to help veterans find success.