About 10 years ago, Sue Bhatia encountered a man standing on a street corner holding a sign that read: “War veteran. Need a job.”
Bhatia, founder and chairwoman of Rose International, a workforce and technology-solutions company, says her company has long hired veterans, but the chance encounter a decade ago had a “profound impact” on her. “I started thinking about how Rose could connect veterans with great employment opportunities so that they might avoid less fortunate means,” she says.
That idea evolved into Deployment to Employment, which provides veterans with workshops, recruitment opportunities and training to help ease them back into civilian working life. Resume-building and writing workshops have been held in Texas, Georgia and Missouri, and Rose is expanding the effort to California in 2019 and several other states by the following year.
Since Rose launched the initiative three years ago, it has helped 800 veterans find work.
Unemployment among veterans is an ongoing epidemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 370,000 unemployed veterans last year, the majority of whom are between 25-54–prime working years. Bhatia notes that un- or underemployment among veterans can cause a spiral into homelessness and substance abuse–issues aggravated by inadequate healthcare, PTSD or a lack of affordable housing.
“Often, military schooling and education qualifications don’t necessarily translate into normal education criteria,” she adds. “In addition to this, if a position in the military included combat or field experience, it is challenging to translate that onto a resume for a managerial position. These put veterans at a disadvantage when submitting their resumes for jobs, even when they are highly qualified.”
Though each vet the firm has worked with has a unique story, many have encountered employers that fail to understand how their military experience has equipped them with a well-rounded skill set. Many of the strengths veterans develop during their service are “intangibles,” Bhatia notes, which may be hard to convey on a resume–but are essential to workplace success: leadership and teamwork abilities, attention to detail and ability to work under pressure, for instance.
The D2E Veteran Employment Specialists team–comprised of military vets, reservists and family members of military members–helps veterans understand and emphasize their unique contributions.
“We have the privilege and honor of building a team whose firsthand knowledge and experience bring a unique perspective in assisting veterans in overcoming employment needs and challenges many veterans face,” Bhatia says.
Veterans hired through D2E have largely obtained IT positions (59 percent), specifically as desktop engineers (24 percent), Bhatia says, though the firm has connected vets with a wide variety of positions across industries.
Bhatia says she is encouraged that more organizations are beginning to recognize the vital role veterans can play in their workforce. For those journeying down this path, she advises them to ensure a well-rounded approach–such as online-hiring materials directed toward veteran applicants; training or other workshops customized for veterans; mentor programs for veteran hires to provide ongoing support; and volunteer opportunities to encourage employees to give back to the veteran community.
“Through their technical training and experience while serving in the military, [veterans] are disciplined, eager to take on challenges, organized, excellent team members, leaders and problem solvers,” Bhatia says. “Our veterans at Rose are honorable and loyal employees with great character, ambition and drive.”