“Back stateside.” I was delighted to get this two-word text message from my Air Force son one afternoon recently. This statement might not seem like much, but to the family and friends of the sender and to the sender as well it is a message that says, “I’m home. I’m safe. I’ll see you soon.”
Many families give a sigh of relief when they receive that message that their family member has returned from deployment. For some they are home for good. They have fulfilled their commitment and are ready to start putting their civilian life back together.
As the Veteran tries to settle into their new life, many thoughts rush through their minds. Some of the thoughts include ‘where will I find work?’ ‘Are there any jobs out there for my skills?’ ‘Do I need to go back to school?’ And, sometimes – ‘should I start my own business?’ For the returning Veteran this can be overwhelming. For the business that is looking for solid employees, this can be rewarding.
So here is where the real story begins. Returning Armed Services personnel need jobs and some businesses may have needs for this caliber of employees. For some businesses this is the chance to hire well-trained, disciplined men and women who have proven the ability to serve and to go the extra mile. It is also a way for some to say “thank you” to a Veteran for giving his or her time to serving and defending our way of life. I have dealt with many service men and women who quickly assimilated into the work force and became a great source of leadership within the work team.
So as a business, where can you find Veterans that you can hire? The good news is that the federal government has begun to put together the efforts of several agencies under one umbrella to try to assist in matching service personnel to businesses that would like to hire them. The goal is to help these warriors assimilate back into the civilian world and workplace. The United States Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense are committed to hiring Veterans or in helping Veterans find jobs. They have combined their online effort to the Hero2Hired Website for more interagency cooperation to assist Veterans and businesses who want to hire them.
On a local front in Florida, CareerSource has a Veteran service group which works diligently with both returning and long-term Veterans and businesses in the area. This group goes out into the community searching for businesses that are looking for the caliber of service that they can get from a Veteran. Veterans and businesses can find assistance there. This agency may also assist with any training that is needed.
And for Veterans who come home from with a great idea for a business, they can meet with consultants from the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, among other organizations, to help determine whether that great idea can be turned into a viable business opportunity. The consultant can assist them in developing a business plan, a marketing plan and even financial plans for the business. The Florida SBDC at USF also offers services to help Veterans and others do business with the government. Steps for registering as a vendor with federal and state agencies and developing a proposal are just some of the services offered.
Did you know some government agencies have programs that allow for “set asides,” which enable Veteran-owned small businesses to compete against other Veteran-owned small businesses for contracts. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a special certification for service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses. (SDVOSB). The VA has been given the ability to set a Vets First government contracting program that gives certified Veteran-owned businesses the first opportunity to bid on VA contracts. There are certified consultants trained to assist the Veteran in applying for this status.
It is great for us when our loved ones, friends and neighbors come home from serving in the military. Let’s work together to make it worth the return. Let’s help make it a return on their investment, as well as ours.
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