How is that Different?


I’d like to pose a few questions today, okay?

Q1:  What is the difference between being a mechanic for a Humvee and working on a PT Cruiser?

Q2: What is the difference between fixing a battlefield wound and responding to an emergency car accident?

Q3: What is the difference in providing logistics for shipping MREs and flak jackets versus providing logistics for auto parts or sink faucets?

Q4: What is the difference in coding software for missile guidance systems and for coding secure business systems?

If you said “no differences,” perhaps you can answer one last question?  Why are so few military veterans getting hired these days?

Veterans Day is a special day in America, when its citizens focus deeply on the sacrifices of the U.S. defense forces in protecting Americans and our democratic way of life.  There are probably very few of us who don’t know someone – a grandfather, mother, brother, aunt or child – who has served in the U.S. military.  We all recognize how important their service has been.

Even so, collectively we’ve had a hard time ensuring that once our veterans come home, they’ll have a good job with a family-supporting wage waiting for them.  The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains stubbornly above the national unemployment rate, although these young people have demonstrated technical skills, courage, leadership, resilience and resourcefulness.

To right this wrong of underemployment, states and their partners are stepping up and creating state-wide programs to prepare vets for jobs and jobs for vets.  The state of Virginia is one such state and Genedge Alliance, the MEP center there, is one of their collaborators.

The Virginia Values Veterans initiative helps Virginia businesses develop a “system” for recruiting skilled veterans.  The catch is that the businesses, themselves, must be up to snuff in order for the state to send skilled veterans for them to hire.  Companies must earn the designation of V3 Certified to be eligible to participate, and V3 provides qualifying criteria to those businesses that are interested.   To ensure that the state-wide approach works, businesses must prove they have senior leadership that is aware of and engaged with the V3 goals, have or will have a focused vet recruiting and retention program, provide market wages and career pathways, and have trained staff to mentor entry-level veteran employees.

The V3 certification program incents companies to hire and retain vets for at least one year. V3 is not a feel-good program, but, says the state, an economic investment initiative to grow Virginia’s economy.

Frankly, this is the type of talent management program manufacturers of all stripes should utilize, e.g. modern human resource and training policies and practices, including mentorships and senior level champions.  However, by focusing on returning veterans, Genedge Alliance and the state are getting out in front of the pack by working together to help recapitalize the state workforce and are putting good people to work. Following their lead seems the least we can all do.

For more information about MEP centers and their veteran programs, visit our find your local center page, and to learn more about the V3 program from Genedge, visit there website here.  If you have a veterans training and hiring initiative that you are particularly proud of, drop me a line at below or at

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Stacey Wagner

Guest blogger Stacey Jarrett Wagner has more than 20 years of experience in workforce development, conducting research and providing strategic thinking and technical assistance on workforce development issues.

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