With the war in Afghanistan drawing down, and force management taking effect, many military members are leaving their services and are ready for work or education in the civilian world. The problem is that some veterans have trouble, for one reason or another, attaining a career or education in their new environments.
Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing commander, spoke to local business leaders and politicians at the Las Vegas City Hall June 5 about the benefits of hiring veterans.
In the coming months and years, thousands of technically savvy Airmen will be released or will voluntarily separate from the Air Force. Approximately 25,000 Airmen will be released over the next five years, 17,000 of whom will be released over the next 16 to 18 months.
These Airmen are potential assets to modern blooming industries on the cutting edge of technology.
“Because [our Airmen] are so technically skilled, I think especially technological industries would mostly benefit. I [also] think that business in general has become so information technology based, that any business would benefit from our Airmen,” Cornish said.
Airmen being released who have served at Nellis and Creech have tremendous potential to help the budding unmanned aerial vehicle industry.
“[There are] aircraft maintenance technicians who would be perfectly poised to feed the growing work force requirements of the burgeoning unmanned aerial vehicle industry,” Cornish said. “The fact that Nellis and Creech are recognized globally as a center of excellence for unmanned flight increases the competitive advantage for local businesses that will have an opportunity not only to attract those already in Nevada, but military members separating from other locations around the country as well.”
With all of the media coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder and various other combat-related traumas and injuries, some businesses may be reluctant to hire veterans because they may think that almost every veteran is suffering from PTSD.
According to the National Institute of Health, citing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects 11 percent of veterans who have served in the war in Afghanistan, and 20 percent of Iraq war veterans.
Despite these service members being a minority of veterans, Cornish did not downplay the necessity for these afflicted individuals to receive care.
“Certainly there are some veterans who need and deserve the very best care we can give, and need the support of our communities in ways only Americans can come together and provide,” Cornish said.
Cornish went on to show his gratitude for all of the efforts made to focus on the needs of our nation’s most aggrieved veterans, but stressed that these individuals are a distinct minority of all veterans.
“For most of the members of our military leaving with an honorable characterization, you can be confident that they will be assets to any organization. Veterans leaving service today are well adjusted and productive members of our society looking forward to building a future for them and their families,” Cornish said.
In addition to having strong dedication and commitment and being trained in a specific technical expertise, todays service members are briefed and trained on how to be professionally and financially successful in the civilian world before their service obligation ends.
All service members separating are congressionally mandated to attend a pre-separation briefing and VA benefits briefing so that they are aware of the benefits provided to them.
Cornish also spoke on a four day transition seminar that is also congressionally mandated. “[The seminar] is designed to prepare participants for civilian employment and life after the military. [Help coping with] transition stress, transferring skills to the private sector, financial planning, resumé writing, interviewing; all of those things that help make the transition easier.”
With all of their technical training and briefings on how to prosper in the civilian world, todays service members are invaluable assets to blooming industries and businesses.
Cornish noted that after their service obligation has ended, service members face the choice of staying in the local area or leaving. Some choose to return home because they have roots there. Others may choose to move to another metropolitan area because of better education for their children or they may find a better quality of life.
“Businesses should not wait to find innovative solutions and tangible incentives for veterans to stay [and] to keep their talents here,” Cornish said.
With thousands of talented, motivated and well-adjusted service members about to be released from service, businesses can only do well to hire these dedicated men and women.