Hiring Heroes: Veterans in the Workforce
During the National Military Appreciation Month of May, Felling Trailers, Sauk Centre, Minn., participated in an event to raise awareness about hiring veterans in the community. The local Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota National Bank of Sauk Centre hosted Lt. Col. Hensley from the U.S. Pentagon to present “Hiring Our Heroes” in an effort to encourage local businesses to put veterans to work. Lt. Col. Hensley discussed the value of hiring veterans and presented resources available to employers that are interested in engaging service members. Afterwards, Felling Trailers gave Lt. Col. Hensley a tour of the facilities and discussed the opportunities Felling has to offer America’s heroes.
While attendees found the presentation informative and encouraging, Felling is no stranger to the benefits of having U.S. military personnel on its side. U.S. Air Force veteran and founder of Felling Trailers, Merle J. Felling is an adamant supporter of hiring service members and currently has over 40 veterans working company wide.
“As a family with personal ties to different military branches, respect for our service men and women has been instilled in us since a young age. And as a family business, we make an effort to do our part in supporting those that have sacrificed,” said Brenda Jennissen, Co-Owner of Felling Trailers, Inc. and proud daughter of Merle J. Felling.
With veterans coming home from deployment every day and looking to transition into the civilian workforce, NATM members are encouraged to hire these men and women. The transition back into civilian life is difficult enough without wading through a murky job market. And although these veterans have shown to be highly trained and adaptable, they have historically faced higher unemployment rates compared to the general public. Some of the hesitation to hire veterans stems from stigmas regarding mental and physical health issues, a misunderstanding as to how military training translates to civilian job qualifications and an unfounded fear of future deployments for those that have truly left the military.
But, as President Barack Obama stated in his State of the Union Address in January earlier this year, “If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, and done right, hire a veteran.” Fortunately for those looking to fill positions, there are thousands of veterans returning stateside that can offer dependability, teamwork, and strong technical and leadership skills. A common struggle in the trailer industry is finding qualified, reliable employees, and by hiring service members, employers are able to bring in new team members that have already proven their ability to learn new skills. With more intensive vocational training available in local community colleges and on-the-job training, trailer manufacturing companies can be assured that efforts invested in service men and women is well spent. And with their history of sacrifice and dedication, military veterans have proven to be loyal which is ideal for those in an industry that struggles with a transitory workforce.
“At Felling, we work with our military and all team members to learn a position, and then encourage them to take the next steps to move up to the next level in their department, then a team lead position, and so on. This career climbing aligns closely with climbing military ranks. Our employees love this type of format where they can reintegrate into a civilian passion that will still allow them to advance and take on positions of leadership,” said Brenda Jennissen.
With their respect for procedures and safety standards from extensive previous training in the military, veterans can easily adapt to workplace safety. Below is a more thorough list of reasons to hire service members from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Top Ten Reasons to Hire Veterans and Wounded Warriors
1. Ability to learn new skills and concepts. While in the military, service members undergo rigorous training programs to become experts in a wide-range of skills and concepts that can easily be transferred to a civilian work environment. The skills service members have learned and applied in real-world situations in the military make them ideal candidates to enhance your organization’s productivity.
2. Strong leadership qualities. The military trains service members to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration in some of the toughest situations imaginable. Service members are not only well schooled in the academic theory of leadership; they also understand and have used practical ways to manage behaviors for results.
3. Flexibility to work strongly in teams or work independently. Military training teaches service members to work as a team by instilling a sense of a responsibility to one’s colleagues. In addition, the size and scope of military operations necessitates that service members understand how groups of all sizes relate to each other and support the overarching objective. While military duties stress teamwork and group productivity, they also build
individuals who are able to perform independently at a very high level.
4. Diversity and strong interpersonal skills. Service members have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, economic status and geographic origins as well as mental, physical and attitudinal capabilities. Many service members have also been deployed or stationed
in numerous foreign countries that give them a greater appreciation for the diverse nature of our globalized economy.
5. Ability to work efficiently and diligently in a fast- paced environment. Service members have developed the capacity and time-management skills needed to know how to accomplish tasks correctly and on time, in spite of limited resources and immense pressure.
6. Respect for procedures and accountability. Service members know how policies and procedures enable an organization to be successful and they easily understand their place within an organizational framework. Service members understand the responsibility that comes with being responsible for the actions of subordinates and they understand how to properly elevate issues through the proper supervisory channels.
7. Hands on experience with technology and globalization. Today’s military uses cutting-edge technology to maintain our dominance over the enemy in the battlefield. From communications technology to the security of computer networks and hardware, service members must stay aware of emerging technologies in the public and private sector.
8. Strong personal integrity. Military training demands that individuals not only abide by a strong code of ethics, but that they live it each and every day. Military personnel
are often trusted with security clearances that give them access to highly sensitive information. An employee with a proven track record of trustworthiness is often an asset to an organization.
9. Strong sense of health, safety and property standards. Service members are aware of health and safety protocols both for themselves and the welfare of others. Individually, they represent a drug-free workforce that is cognizant of maintaining personal health and fitness. On a company level, their attentiveness and care translate into respect for employees, property and materials.
10. Triumph over adversity. In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, service members have frequently triumphed over great adversity. Service members have proven their mettle in mission critical situations demanding endurance, stamina and flexibility. In the case of wounded warriors, they have overcome disabilities and/or acquired injuries (including invisible injuries) through strength, determination and personal conviction.
“We have National Guard, Army, Air Force you name it, and they’re awesome. Their service to our country is amazing, and when they come on board here, they have a passion for doing great work, and having pride in their work. The quality they produce is something to be proud of, and we are proud to have them,” said Jennissen. “One of our service men, Jason Kiley with the National Guard, was deployed to Afghanistan for almost a year after being at Felling for two years. Our team members sent him a care package and kept in touch with him. After he came home from overseas, we welcomed him back to the company and helped him transition back into civilian work after spending time with his family.”
In addition to adding a great team player that offers qualities that cannot be easily taught, you may qualify for Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) by hiring a veteran. For more information about what groups qualify, how to apply, and to estimate how much your business can earn in tax credits for WOTC, visit www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax.
Veterans are a perfect addition to your workforce, whether on the factory floor, in your HR department or in managerial positions. If you are interested in hiring a hero and developing a veterans hiring initiative for your company, the Department of Labor offers a step-by-step tool kit for employers that includes information about designing a hiring strategy, recruiting, accommodating and retaining veterans at www.dol.gov/vets.
Free Resources to Hire Veterans:
Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS): www.dol.gov/vets
Information about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax
To find local veterans that are ready for work: www.servicelocator.org www.careeronestop.org/businesscenter/index.aspx
To post jobs for free where veterans can see them:
To start a veteran hiring initiative: www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw
To learn more about veterans’ employment rights: www.dol.gov/userra
US Department of Labor: