Why Small Business Owners Should Hire Military Veterans

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Veterans possess most of the qualities that business owners are looking for when hiring employees. (a katz/Shutterstock)

Loyalty. Teamwork. Problem solving. Strong work ethic. Effective communication. Self-confidence. A go-getter attitude.

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Chad Russell is a U.S. Marine and sales rep with PrimePay. (Photo: Chad Russell)

These are all attributes many employers look for when they’re hiring new staff. The question is, who are they?

The answer: Veterans. Men and women who have spent time in the U.S. military possess a valuable skill set that can enhance productivity, efficiency and communication in any workplace. But the benefits don’t end there. Read on to find out the key ways hiring veterans can help your small business, with expert insight from both veteran employees and the people who hire them.

1. Veterans are problem solvers.

Chad Russell is a sales representative for PrimePay, an HR benefits administrator, based in Oregon. He’s also a U.S. Marine, and he’s passionate about the role military servicemen and women can play in the civilian workforce. He believes veterans have an edge on their peers for one primary reason: Life experience.

“We are grounded in the confidence of our individual capabilities, loyalty to our personal ethos, and committed the organization’s goals,” Russell said. “Many veterans are put in situations that test their courage on a consistent basis, especially the combat veterans. Testing your courage reinforces those ethos you live by. It affirms that it’s not just some slogan on a bumper sticker of a veteran grandmother, or mom, or dad, but it proves to the veteran that they are courageous and willing to do what most others will not for their brothers and sisters beside them.”

So what does that mean for you, the employer? For Russell, it comes down to giving your veteran employee plenty of room to grow, lead and bridge the civilian-military divide among the team.

“This will allow the veteran a leadership role in the company and provide a sense of heightened purpose, and also allow them the ability to teach what they know to their teams,” he said.

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Give veteran employees the opportunity to lead and learn in the workplace.(studio0411/Shutterstock)

2. Veterans are accustomed to overcoming obstacles to accomplish goals.

Ed Brancheau, an SEO expert who owns digital marketing and web design firm Goozleology in San Diego, says he’s had great success with veterans in his employ, and here’s why: “They do what they say they’re going to do by the time that they said they would do it.”

That go-getter attitude can manifest itself in many ways, and it can work wonders for your small business. Veterans are trained to receive and retain constructive criticism without taking it personally, and as a result, many have developed a thick skin. This allows them to carry on with the plan of the day without being distracted, and to address new challenges without being overwhelmed by them.

“We are trained to go through the obstacles or around them, and not allow them to dictate our mission,” Russell said.

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Military structure and culture often prepares veterans well for the workplace. (Photo: studio0411/Shutterstock)

3. Hiring veterans is in an employer’s best interest.

Federal and state governments want to make it easier for small business owners to hire and keep veterans, and a handful of policies reflect this. Several states allow employers to grant a preference in hiring or promotion to veterans and, in some cases, veterans’ spouses, according to Shelby Skeabeck, a management-side labor and employment attorney at Shawe Rosenthal in Baltimore, Maryland. Furthermore, VEVRAA (the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act) applies federal affirmative action obligations to military hiring, which means that they’re legally compelled to consider an applicant’s military background in their hiring decisions.

“Typically, VEVRAA applies to federal contractors or subcontractors with a minimum $150,000 contract amount, and in the world of contracts, many small businesses hit that threshold pretty quickly,” Skeabeck said. “We’ve found our clients don’t always realize that VEVRAA applies to them.”

In addition to federal policies, states have enacted a number of laws that protect the employment rights of veterans and service members. Check with your state’s Attorney General’s Office about specific legislation that may apply to your small business.

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There are tax incentives available for small business owners interested in hiring veterans. (Photo: Nadya Lukic/Shutterstock)

4. Employers can earn tax credits and other financial incentives for hiring vets.

Do you know WOTC? If you don’t, you should.

It’s the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and it’s available to employers who hire individuals from certain target groups who have faced significant barriers to employment. It’s one of several programs across the country that promote and incentivize workplace diversity. The target groups under WOTC include food stamp recipients, summer youth employees living in low-income areas, and veterans. And within the veterans category, the incentive amount increases significantly if the veteran has been unemployed for a long time and has a service-connected disability. For example, the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit allows employers to claim as much as $9,600 per veteran for a for-profit company or $6,240 for a tax-exempt organization. Instructions on how to claim the credits, as well as access to IRS forms, can be found at military.com.

In addition, the federal Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 gives employers more incentive to hire veterans, while also saving company overhead. The law exempts certain businesses from counting military veterans toward their 50-or-more-employee total, which means they don’t risk being fined under the Affordable Care Act. This may prompt a cash-strapped business to hire a veteran who already has health coverage under the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s a great way to control costs while also ensuring your company’s continued growth.

For small business owners interested in getting involved in the movement to help veterans find employment, consider joining the Veteran Jobs Mission, a coalition of American businesses committed to hiring 1 million service members and vets. More than 200 companies are already participating.

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