This book attempts to address these several important questions. Let’s start with why. The fact is that veteran employment is critical to both the national economy and the country overall. Although veterans make up only ~8 percent of the nation’s adult population and just over 6 percent of the civilian labor pool, they have an out-sized influence over the future of the country’s all-volunteer force that defends our freedom, protects our liberty, and enables capitalism to thrive. If military service is not seen as providing a gateway to successful civilian careers, future participants in the nation’s all-volunteer military may be dissuaded from serving. It is thus a matter of national security: “The success of veterans after service, and the positive perception of veterans as assets to their employers and communities, is vital to the success of our military.”[i]
[i] Call of Duty Endowment and ZipRecruiter, “Challenges on the Home Front: Underemployment Hits Veterans Hard,” accessed February 26, 2019, https://www.callofdutyendowment.org/content/dam/atvi/callofduty/code/pdf/ZipCODE_Vet_Report_FINAL.pdf.
Further, recent studies routinely demonstrate the business value of diverse and inclusive work places that include veterans, whether characterized by internal factors (employee acquisition and retention, productivity, and innovation) or external factors (organizational brand, market positioning, and customer engagement). Some statistics:
- The Level Playing Field Institute estimated U.S. corporations lose $64 billion annually when work environments are not inclusive.[i]
- Cumulative Gallup Workplace Studies uncovered a 22% increase in productivity at organizations that create inclusive environments.[ii]
- Donald Fan, Senior Director of Diversity at Walmart, found a direct link between diversity and innovation in a recent study.[iii]
- Research by Bersin by Deloitte revealed that organizations with the most inclusive and best talent management approaches has several advantages:
- Realized 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period
- Smaller companies had 13 times higher mean cash flow from operations
- Were 1.8 times more likely to be change-ready and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market
- Were 3.8 times more likely to be able to coach people for improved performance, 3.6 times more able to deal with personnel performance problems, and 2.9 times more likely to identify and build leaders.[iv]
[i] Level Playing Field Institute, “The Cost of Employee Turnover Due Solely to Unfairness in the Workplace,” The Corporate Leavers Survey(2007): 2, accessed November 4, 2018, https://www.smash.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/corporate-leavers-survey.pdf.
[ii] Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan, The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off (Brookline, MA: Bibliomotion, Inc., 2013), 37.
[iii] Kaplan and Donovan, The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off, 38.
[iv] Josh Bersin, “Why Diversity And Inclusion Will Be A Top Priority For 2016,” Forbes, December 6, 2015, accessed November 4, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2015/12/06/why-diversity-and-inclusion-will-be-a-top-priority-for-2016/#604697162ed5.
Furthermore, most civilian organizations are not organized to successfully hire veterans. A Korn Ferry study documented that fully 80 percent of organizations do not have veteran-specific recruiting programs. The study also documented that 71 percent of organizations do not provide training to hiring managers or recruiters on veteran hiring, and 52 percent do not provide onboarding or transition support to veteran hires. And so, in spite of the enormous potential up-side that this talent pool offers, few organizations are taking advantage. It is a missed opportunity.
• College campuses. Studies tell us that about four percent of transitioning veterans use college or graduate school as a transition vehicle. Assuming that transitioning veterans self-identify, career centers at many schools offer veteran-specific programs, services, and training to successfully enable their educational experience. Veteran support offices at such schools can be a great source of newly up-skilled veteran talent. (For colleges considering such programs, please see the “Becoming a Military-Friendly Academic Institution” box.) Also, some veteran-related organizations may exist on college campuses that pose yet another avenue for identifying qualifying talent:
o Student Veterans of America. Veteran student support organization with 1500 on-campus chapters in all 50 states and 4 countries representing more than 750,000 student veterans.
o MBA Veterans Network
Becoming a Military-friendly Academic Institution
“Military-friendly” on college campuses entails more than we’ve previously discussed. In addition to our earlier definition, the overall intent would be to build a campus climate geared toward supporting veterans’ holistic success in higher education and engaging them in their education and growth toward their new career in civilian life. Here are some important programmatic steps an institution can implement to build a “military-friendly” campus climate:
• Military Cultural Competency Training. Implement military cultural competency training campus-wide, particularly for those responsible for teaching and advising activities. Instructors and advisors must learn how to effectively educate veterans and make thoughtful referrals to supportive resources as needed.
• Academic Outreach. Provide veterans with sufficient information to know how their military education will be credited and what they will need to do to reach graduation. A good resource is NASPA’s annual Symposium on Military-Connected Students.
• Career Services Outreach & Staff Training. Because veterans may not know about or seek career services assistance, informed career service representatives should initiate contact with veterans proactively, so veterans know how to access them.
• Integrated Counseling, Disability Services, and Student Health. Veterans in higher education need information about resources to address mental health, disability, and health challenges unique to their experience in the military, necessitating campus resources that can work collaboratively.
• Financial Aid and Business Services. Financial Aid representatives should be prepared to fully explain the financial aid options available and true cost of education in addition to helping veterans understand their education benefits.
• Involvement in Federal Programs . Actively participate in several of the following programs: Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill) , Official commitment to the Eight Keys to Veterans’ Success , VA’s Principles of Excellence , The College Financing Plan , Armed Forces Tuition Assistance (TA) Funding , DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Tuition Assistance , the Veteran Success on Campus (VSOC) Program , and the Workforce Recruitment Program (see below). Also, the US Veterans Administration offers a Campus Toolkit for faculty, staff, and administrators to support veterans.
For additional guidance, please see the free Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions that the American Council on Education created.
• Workforce Recruitment Program, a Department of Labor and Department of Defense program for college students (including veterans returning to school) with disabilities that helps them find summer or permanent jobs.
Colleges in the Cockpit
“We recognize that when veterans transition out of the military and succeeds, our communities succeed. Higher education can be a transformative experience for a veteran, utilizing their existing leadership ability, skill sets and strengths, and providing them with a new career path. A military friendly campus is one in which the institution makes a commitment to support veterans throughout their higher education transition, with services and programs that fit the veteran and not the other way around. All too often, campuses try to fit veterans into existing resources that are designed for traditionally experienced students and that typically doesn’t work. The most important pieces are having an actual center for student veterans, dedicated staff with that center, and money to support programs and services. If you have all three, a cultural shift can happen on any campus.”
Brad Fittes, Xavier University Student Veterans Center Director
• Career fairs – both virtual and in-person.
o National Labor Exchange Career Events
Enables access to all state job banks and all state workforce agencies
o VA for Vets hiring events
Includes Hiring Our Heroes and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) events
o US Department of Defense Hiring Heroes Program career fairs
o Service Academy Career Conferences
o Soldier For Life – Transition Assistance Program job fairs
Includes the MEGA Career Fair at Fort Hood, TX
o The American Legion veterans career fairs
o Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) career and education events
o Recruit Military veteran job fairs
o Corporate Gray job fairs
o Cleared Jobs job fairs
o Job Zone job fairs
o Military.com career expos, presented in coordination with the Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA)
o Choice career fairs
o VetJobs career fairs
o Veteran Recruiting job fairs
• National veteran-related conferences.
o Women Veterans Alliance Unconference
o Student Veterans of America National Conference (NatCon)
o MBA Veterans Conference
o National Association of State Workforce Agencies Veterans Conference
o American Veterans Center Annual Conference
o Academy Women’s Officer Women Leadership Symposium (OWLS)
• Hire Heroes USA®. Hire Heroes USA is a non-profit that provides free job search assistance to U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses, and helps companies connect with opportunities to hire them. They provide employers services such as job board postings, employment training, virtual career fairs, and talent sourcing.
• American Job Centers. Consider using the resources provided by one of the nearly twenty-five hundred American Job Centers (AJCs) around the country. Most AJCs have Business Service Representatives and Veterans Service Representatives. They provide a robust set of resources, support, and training through their Business Centers , including:
o Recruiting and Hiring
Identifying your hiring needs
Where to find candidates
Interviewing and hiring
Hiring a diverse workforce
o Training and Retaining
Identifying employee skill needs
Funding employee training
Managing and retaining employees
American Job Center finder
Available workforce (a workforce profiler)
Military-to-Civilian occupation translator
Occupation comparison tool
Local training finder
Professional association finder
State resource finder
Job description writer
Competency model clearinghouse
• Other organization’s HR representatives. It is wise to maintain a network of peers across other organizations, even competing organizations. While competition for the best talent is fierce, that talent can only be productive when and where there exists a proper fit. And if the fit in a sister organization simply doesn’t come to fruition, that organization’s HR representative may be willing to pass those potential veteran hires your way.
• Federal apprenticeship programs. The federal government sponsors several of these, which represent an opportunity for your organization to both sponsor an apprenticeship and take advantage of their newly up-skilled products. (See Appendix F for guidance on how to establish your own Registered Apprenticeship Program.)
o Post-9/11 GI Bill Apprenticeship Program, where eligible veterans receive a monthly housing allowance in addition to their apprenticeship wages
o The Department of Labor
o The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Fellows program, also known as the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program
o Army Career Skills Program, whose participating companies are unique to each Army post
o Marine Corps Skillbridge Employment Training Program
o Navy Skillbridge Training Program
o Air Force Career Skills Program
o The State Department’s Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellowship
o The Department of Energy’s Veterans Programs
o Secretary of Defense Executive Fellows
o United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP). Allows service members to complete an apprenticeship while on active duty.
o Also, the VA provides benefits that cover costs associated with on-the-job training and apprenticeships
• Civilian apprenticeship programs. Civilian organizations sponsor hundreds of these, all of which produce up-skilled veterans ripe for the picking.
o Fastport’s national apprenticeship program, which is coordinated with the Department of Labor.
o Helmets to Hardhats. National nonprofit program that connects veterans and military service members with training and career opportunities in the construction industry.
o The Painters and Allied Trades Veterans Program.
o Purdue University’s Cyber Apprenticeship Program.
o Troops to Trades. Nonprofit that provides scholarships and employment opportunities within the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services industries.
o United Association Veterans in Piping Program.
o The US Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a list of employers that offer apprenticeships. (At the top of the page in Search Filters, select Program Type “On-The-Job-Training/Apprenticeship”, then select your state on map below.)
o Workshops® for Warriors. Nonprofit that provides training and education for veterans interested in an advanced manufacturing career field.
• Department of Labor’s Veteran Employment and Training Service (VETS). VETS provides employers with assistance in finding qualified transitioning service members and veterans in their local area. VETS also offers employment and training services to eligible veterans through two principal programs, as noted below. Both can be especially useful in providing funding and other resources for veterans in your organization as well acting as a source of newly skilled veteran talent.
o Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP). DVOP provides job and training opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities, including apprenticeships and on-the-job training, enabling them to be more competitive in the labor market. DVOP specialists work with employers, veteran service organizations, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, and other community-based organizations to link veterans with appropriate jobs and training opportunities, such as the federally-funded VA Vocational Rehabilitation program.
o Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs) Program. LVERs are state employees located in state employment offices that provide the following types of assistance to veterans (see Table 2-2 for links to state-level veteran employment sites):
Supervise the provision of all state employment services, including counseling, testing, and identifying training and employment opportunities.
Monitor job listings from federal contractors to ensure eligible veterans get priority in referrals to these jobs.
Monitor federal department and agency vacancies listed at local state employment service offices.
Process complaints from veterans about the observance of veterans’ preference by Federal employers.
Promote and monitor the participation of veterans in federally-funded employment and training programs.
Cooperate with the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify and aid veterans who need work-specific prosthetic devices, sensory aids or other special equipment to improve their employability.
Contact community leaders, employers, unions, training programs, and veteran service organizations to ensure eligible veterans get the services to which they are entitled.
• Corporate internship or rotational programs. Some larger organizations have designed internships or rotational programs that expose transitioning veterans to several functions over the course of the program. These programs tend to be geared toward junior military officers (JMOs) or noncommissioned officers (NCOs) with at least a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of these programs, some veterans may decide that the sponsoring organization is not a fit. That, in turn, may present an opportunity for you.
• Federal agency internships. Several federal agencies have initiated internship programs for veterans. Participants in these programs would be possible acquisition targets for both commercial and governmental organizations.
o The Department of Defense’s Operation Warfighter. This internship program matches qualified wounded, ill and injured service members with non-funded federal internships so they may gain work experience during their recovery and rehabilitation.
o Department of State Wounded Warrior Non-Paid Work Initiative. This program attempts to mimic the functionality of DoD’s Operation Warfighter program among its various offices.
o Pathways. These programs offer Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and clear paths to Federal careers for recent graduates.
Internship Program: Offers currently enrolled students paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school.
Recent Graduates Program: Offers recent graduates of qualifying educational institutions a career development program with training and mentorship.
Presidential Management Fellows Program: The Federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates.
o Department of Veterans Affairs Intern Programs
Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE): Provides eligible veterans with the opportunity to obtain training and practical job experience by working in a federal, state, or local government agency.
On-the Job Training (OJT) Program: Provides eligible veterans an opportunity to obtain training and practical hands-on experience at federal agencies.
• Federal agency hiring programs.
o Vets-to-Feds (V2F) Program. Career development program sponsored by the Interagency Council on Veterans Employment and designed to recruit and support the development of veterans for careers with the Federal Government.
o Reintegration of Guard and Reserve Members. The government-wide Reintegration Framework outlines a systematic approach to reintegrating federal employees who are Guard or Reserve members. See Appendix L for more detail.
o Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program. Under title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 720, subpart C, and also 38 United States Code, section 4214, all agencies are responsible for developing annual Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP) Plans.
o Women Veterans Hiring Initiative. While not yet a formal program, federal agencies might consider the findings of the Council on Veterans Employment’s Women Veterans Initiative.
Spotlight on Women Veterans
Women veterans represent a small (~16%) but growing portion of the veteran population. That, combined with their evolving roles in the military, tends to result in a transition from the military that is remarkably different than their male counterparts. According to a DAV® report on the topic, “Our nation does not yet adequately recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in military service, treat them with dignity and respect, or promote their successful transition to civilian life.” Now is your organization’s chance to do so. Women are no strangers to hurdles and overcoming barriers, as many dealt with this routinely while serving in a male-dominated profession. Moreover, they are strong, smart and driven. Many companies desire to leverage these skill sets and further build upon a diverse employee base. Several organizations stand ready to assist your efforts in doing so. Among them:
• Academy Women
• LeanIn Women Veterans
• National Association of State Women Coordinators
• Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
• Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)
• Women Veterans Alliance
• Women Veterans Interactive
• Women Veterans ROCK
• Education and Employment Initiative. This US Department of Defense program matches wounded or injured service members with education and career opportunities that will help them transition successfully to civilian life. The program maintains regional coordinators that maintain relationships with public, private, and nonprofit employers interested in hiring wounded or injured service members.
• Military scholars fellowships. These programs run the range from scholarships to experiential development opportunities. At a minimum, they result in better trained, more worldly, experienced veteran talent. Some even produce new college graduates. All may be good sources for newly up-skilled veterans. Many also offer the opportunity to sponsor a fellowship.
o Tillman Scholars Program. This program supports active-duty service members, veterans and their spouses with academic scholarships, a national network, and professional development opportunities in the fields of medicine, law, business, policy, technology, education and the arts.
o Veterans in Global Leadership Fellowship. This program offers a 12-month leadership fellowship for student veterans (enlisted and JMOs) who aspire to positions of global leadership.
o Mission Continues Fellowship. Enables post-9/11 veterans, Guardsmen and Reservists to deliver volunteer services in their local communities in exchange for mentoring, professional development, and personal growth experiences.
o ServiceCorps Fellowship. Fellows receive leadership development training and living stipends that cover 100 percent of student loan payments so they can become a leader serving in the nonprofit and public sectors.
o Governmental entities may have an interest in graduates of the following programs:
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Military Fellowship
White House Fellowship
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)-Student Veterans of America (SVA) Legislative Fellowship
Anna Sobol Levy Foundation Fellowships
Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary’s Honors Program
The Smith Richardson Foundation Strategy and Policy Fellows Program
Hertog War Studies Program
Belfer Center Fellowships
• Corporate transition programs. Many organizations, some for-profit and some non-profit, sponsor transition programs for military servicemembers. Most have a diligent vetting process; so, their graduates would have already met certain standards.
o American Corporate Partners (ACP). ACP is a national nonprofit organization that helps returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking, and online career advice. Their website provides opportunities to become an ACP partner and sponsor mentorships.
o Breakline. BreakLine is an immersive educational program for veterans transitioning into new careers.
o Deloitte’s Career Opportunity Redefinition & Exploration (CORE) Leadership Program. This program helps veterans and armed forces members:
Define their personal brand, identify their strengths, and tell their own story
Learn networking strategies and communication techniques, including best practices in using social media, through employment simulations
Interact and network with professionals from both the public and private sectors
Gain access to other alumni of the CORE Leadership Program
o Onward to Opportunity (O2O). O2O is a collaboration between the Department of Defense, the Schultz Family Foundation, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to bring no cost civilian career training to eligible military members and their spouses.
• Military recruiting firms. These for-profit “headhunters” tend to refer candidates on a contingency basis and focus on transitioning service members that are either Junior Military Officers (JMOs) or Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) with at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Many will also place transitioned veterans considering a career change.
o Cameron-Brooks – specializes in JMO recruiting
o Orion Talent – includes opportunities for technicians
o Lucas Group – scope ranges from technicians to retirees
o Bradley-Morris – includes opportunities for technicians
o Military-Civilian.com – scope includes military spouses, dependents, DoD employees and contractors, retirees, and National Guard
o Hire Velocity
o SHRM HireVets – monthly subscription service that offers access to a nationwide veteran database and a military skills translator
• Veteran job boards.
o GI Jobs
o Hire Purpose
o Hire Veterans
o Military Hire
o Military Times
• Select nation-wide veteran service organizations (VSOs). Some of the larger VSOs provide career training and placement services for transitioning veterans.
o AMVETS provide career training and placement services for veterans.
o The USO’s Pathfinder® program, through its transition support efforts, produce veterans prepared to join your organization.
o VetJobs, sponsored by Corporate America Supports You (CASY), offers an online jobs board for veterans.
o The Wounded Warrior Project’s Warriors To Work® program provides employers direct access to a pool of available veterans that are products of the organization’s programs and services.
o National Veterans Foundation. Provides a job board for employers looking to hire veterans along with a toll-free, vet-to-vet helpline.
o The Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN) offers career development for military spouses and connects employers with job seekers.
• Organizations supporting the employment of veterans with disabilities. In addition to those services noted in chapter 2, consider the following:
o Centers for Independent Living (CILs). These community-based nonprofit agencies are run by and for people with disabilities and provide a variety of employment-related services. They can help employers find qualified candidates with disabilities and provide advice on employment support that may impact an employer’s ability to hire, retain and advance veterans with disabilities.
o Employment Networks (ENs). ENs are private organizations or public agencies that have agreed to provide employment and vocational rehabilitation services to beneficiaries with disabilities under the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program. Employers can contact ENs in their area to express their interest in employing people with disabilities and discuss the skills they need.
o Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation / National Employment Team (NET). Nationwide network of business consultants that serves as employers’ points of contact for vocational rehabilitation (VR) and ensures the workforce needs of VR agencies’ business customers are met.
o State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies. Organizations that provide state and federally-funded programs to help disabled veterans find, secure, and retain employment and accept job postings from employers interested in hiring them.
o Employment Referral Resource Directory. Maintained by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), this directory lists not-for-profit organizations that assist hiring of qualified applicants and programs providing job referral services to veterans, individuals with disabilities, women and minority groups.
• Job boards connecting employers with disabled veterans.
o American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Career Center. Job board for companies of all sizes to find qualified disabled job candidates.
o Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD). Membership organization that supports a national network of university-based programs for people with disabilities and offers a free job board for employers interested in hiring people with disabilities.
o Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). Free job board for employers interested in hiring students and recent graduates that previously participated in the Federal Government’s Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP).
o AbilityLinks. Free job board for employers and disabled candidates.
o disABLEDperson, Inc.
o Diversity Jobs
o Getting Hired
o OurAbility Connect
o Job Opportunities For Disabled Veterans (JOFDAV)
• Entrepreneurship programs. Franchise organizations may find a ready talent pool in these programs.
o Boots to Business
o Bunker Labs
o Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans
o National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP)
o Patriot Boot Camp
o Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) of the US Small Business Administration
o Veteran Institute for Procurement
o 1836 Veterans
When composing the onboarding curriculum, consider that it should reflect the topics in the mentoring discussions above:
• How organizational values compare to the military
• How organizational culture compares to the military
• How organizational leadership styles compare to the military
• How organizational structure compares to the military
• How organizational communication styles compare to the military
• How to network, and the benefits of networking, within the organization
• How to influence others within the organization
• How to manage ambiguity in your daily work
• Understanding organizational behavior, conduct, and collaboration expectations
• Defining first year career objectives
• Finding meaning at work
• Understanding the typical career progression within the organization (promotion timing expectations)
• Understanding what career development support/processes exist within the organization (training, mentoring, etc.)
• Understanding compensation and benefits and how they are different from the military
• Understanding recognition programs and how they are different from the military
• Understanding the support offered by the organization’s veteran affinity group
• Understanding whether other internal or external support structures, groups, or elements exist and how to utilize them
• Understanding advice, guidance, and lessons learned from veteran program leaders and executive sponsors (see Appendix K for some examples)
• Understanding how to perform - and identifying resources that support - administrative tasks such as time-keeping, payroll, scheduling, accessing employee assistance programs, etc.Veterans are an obvious talent pool to leverage, as they are eminently trained in leadership skills. Leadership skills are both invaluable and intangible; you can’t teach them. Whatever hard skills veterans don’t currently have can be taught whereas leadership is something that takes much more time to develop.
Veterans are an obvious talent pool to leverage, as they are eminently trained in leadership skills. Leadership skills are both invaluable and intangible; you can’t teach them. Whatever hard skills veterans don’t currently have can be taught whereas leadership is something that takes much more time to develop.
- Department of Labor oversees the HIRE Vets Medallion Program under the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act).
- Chief Executive Magazine, in concert with the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point, sponsors the annual Patriots in Business Award to recognize the best companies with military and veteran programs.
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV) sponsors an annual National Commander Employer Awards Program for small, midsize, and large businesses.
- The American Legion sponsors National Veterans Education & Employment Awards.
- AMVETS sponsors an annual Veteran Friendly Employer of the Year Awards program.
In the military, veterans were told when to wake up, what to wear, what to eat, where to live, how to walk, how to talk, what equipment to use, what their salary was, and what health care they had, among other things. They didn’t have a lot of input on these things until later in their careers. The up-side of that lack of freedom was fewer things to worry about.
In entering the civilian world, you should understand that veterans suddenly have tremendous freedom regarding nearly all these things. For some of them, that may seem long overdue and most welcome; but for others, those things may pose an exhausting problem set that must be actively managed every day. It can be quite a shock to their systems.
Veteran collaboratives are private, non-profit organizations that exist to bring veterans, agencies, organizations, and community members together on a local basis in an atmosphere of mutual support to systemically solve issues that each could not address alone. Most of them offer support in areas such as employment, education, healthcare, housing, wellness, and family support. They exist in recognition of the fact that federal support for helping veterans effectively settle in local areas is lacking, and there is either (1) a lack of support resources in some communities or (2) an overabundance of support resources in some communities (referred to as the ‘sea of goodwill’), leading to confusion, apathy, and unsought support. When veterans in-process in the military, they do so through a military one-stop processing center that took care of all their needs: ID cards, benefits, housing, finance, transportation, travel, claims, etc. These in-processing centers did it all. Think of these veteran collaboratives as a veteran’s one-stop in-processing center in their new community. Ideally, collaboratives are some of the first resources veterans seek out in their local community.