Veterans have dedicated their lives to serve and protect their countries, but what happens after their mission is finished? A challenge many veterans face is adapting and being accepted into the workforce again. In 2015, unemployment for veterans was at 5.8%. According to a survey with 708 post 9/11 veterans, one of the top reasons veterans face difficulties in finding suitable jobs after service is the feeling of a lack of education and skill sets needed in the civilian workforce. 37% of respondents felt “devalued” by hiring managers. 41% of respondents reported feeling that hiring mangers do not understand how military experiences can transfer to civilian work. Even though veterans may be qualified for certain positions, without a college education, many are not considered for positions. Having a lack of available or relevant jobs for veterans is harmful and difficult for many individuals and families. To combat the veteran unemployment rate, there needs to be more resources for both the individual and the employer. 28% of respondents in the survey responded that they felt unsure of how to describe their transferable skills to employers. Having resources available for veterans to understand the skill sets they have and for employers to listen and be receptive is fundamental in abolishing veteran unemployment and boosting confidence in workplace settings.
One Devco employee shared his experience from military to civilian work. Dana first began his military service as an Air Cadet and soon moved into the Reserve Force, working in the Penhold Bunker as a Canadian Forces Strategic Line Communication Operator. After completing basic training, he moved to the PPCLI Battle School in Wainwright, AB to train as an Infantry Man. Upon completion of school, Dana was posted to CFB Calgary where he trained as a LAV driver, machine gunner, and mortar man. Later, he trained US Marines for winter warfare and completed UN service in Cyprus. Following his overseas service, Dana took a hiatus from the military in order to attend Alberta College. He later rejoined the forces as a cook, where he spent time in CFB Borden, Ontario and CFB Edmonton Greisbach, and received his journeyman and civilian journeyman ticket. He moved between Borden and Edmonton, finishing his service as a Shift Supervisor at CFB Edmonton Namao.
Dana wrote, “The hardest thing for some veterans is re-finding their place in the world.” Luckily, after his military service was complete, Dana did find satisfaction in civilian life. Working as a painter and contractor, building houses in Japan, and receiving NASCAR rank as a stock car driver. Dana also has credited Devco, saying, “Devco has allowed me to become a part of their operations and a member of the Devco family.”
Having those valuable connections in the workplace is what allows veterans, and everyone to flourish in their own skills and experiences. When companies support diverse backgrounds, everyone benefits through learning, understanding, and confidence that comes with feeling supported and valued.
By Hannah Reynn