Former Troops Make Great Employees
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
NEW ORLEANS, July 31, 2002 Two retired senior officers had plenty of great things to say here about service members as prospective employees.
"I'm always looking around and finding that the people that can jump out of planes, hit the ground, shoot the enemy and be victorious, (have) the same type of attributes that you need in industry," retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Henry said.
Henry is the president and chief operating officer of The Veterans Corp., a nonprofit public-private venture that encourages and assists veterans wishing to start small businesses. He and retired Vice Adm. Herbert Browne spoke to attendees at the DoD Worldwide Transition Assistance Program Training Conference here this week.
Browne is the president and chief operating officer of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a professional organization with close ties to the military.
He explained that separating military members have leadership skills corporations are desperate for. "Industry is hungry for leadership -- and leadership both ways, those who can accept leadership and those who can provide leadership," Browne told the 450 military, civilian and contractor transition specialists at the conference. "The people you're advising as they enter the private sector have those skills, and they have them both ways."
Separating service members are patriots as well, another quality desirable in American corporations. "You don't have to wear a uniform to be a patriot," Browne said. "Our young people need to realize as they take off the uniform and move into (other) clothes that they are in fact the same patriots they were in uniform, and they should be proud of it."
Henry said such patriots continue to serve their country even when they leave the military by "lubricating the capitalistic society that we live in." A strong economy is just as important as a strong defense, he said.
Both men said transition assistance professionals should remind their clients there is life after the military. Browne suggested service members look at transition from military the same as commencement from high school or college. "You're starting something new in your life," he explained.
"You're moving to another level," Henry said.
Browne offered another piece of advice as well. He said separating service members should take the time and make the effort to check out prospective employers. During an average three-year military tour, members' overlap with supervisors is generally only about 18 months -- a short enough time to have to deal with a situation that isn't necessarily a perfect fit.
In the private sector, however, it's conceivable to have the same boss for five or 10 years, he said. "They ought to be looking and saying, 'Is this the person I want to be my boss?' 'Is this the company or corporation that I want to work for?'" the admiral said.
Both men were also full of high praise for transition assistance programs and the professionals at this conference who make them successful. "The opportunity to deal with and work for veterans is what we all are here for," Henry said.