Why Veterans as Job Candidates Continue to Earn My Deepest Respect

With Veterans Day coming up, I wanted to write about one of my favorite topics - veterans. Trying to collect my thoughts, I realized I’d probably written about this topic on Memorial Day. I checked back in the archives and saw that indeed I had--my feelings are, if anything, stronger now. 

The reason veterans are so important to me is that I’ve learned so much over the past 12 years at Columbia Business School working with many incredible students who served in the various armed forces. This was a new experience for someone who'd had limited contact, over a lifetime, with military people-- except to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. For those of us who were draft age in the ’60s, attitudes were considerably different then.  

This holiday is a good time for me to mention, again, why veterans are among my favorite clients--and have been for years. I’ve seen how well they do at Columbia Business School. They’re disciplined, tenacious, resourceful and financial services organizations (among others) love to hire them. The success rate is unusually high. Is this a surprise? Not to me.  

Many of the officers I work with have come from tough backgrounds and have fought hard to make it. While they value individual strength, they also understand the value of team work. That’s just one of the reasons why they do so well in the job market.  

I've had clients who have done several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have never held a job outside of the military. I’ve seen them start from scratch, build networks, pick up the skills they’ll need for success in civilian life. It's great to watch. One of our current students, a West Point graduate and veteran of THREE one-year tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was still in the military when we met, and during his first semester, found his first job outside the military--through his remarkable West Point network. He’s already working on his next options. This is one determined guy.  

But the sequester is taking a bite out of tuition remission, along with a lot of other services for veterans, making it harder for veterans to get the education they need. It's outrageous that they have to even partially pay for an expensive education after what they’ve been through.  

No one’s ever accused me of being a super patriot, but maybe Veterans Day is a good reminder that the rest of us need to pay special attention. Not just for today, but every day.