Thank heroes by saying, You're hired!

Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2012, 6:00 am
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By Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yves Fontaine
For several years, hiring a veteran has been a subject of local political discussions, numerous news articles, and a focus for the administration, as these brave men and women are returning home from long and numerous deployments in which they are fighting and wining our nation's wars.
As a veteran myself, I know firsthand that our veterans are serving in places where no one else wanted to go.

I have witnessed our veterans' selflessness as they are separated from their loved ones, friends, and communities, as well as their dedication to duty and patriotism.

Our veterans have left their jobs and the security of their homes in order to deploy globally where our nation sends them to accomplish the missions given to them: punish those who mean us harm while spreading democracy and fighting for human rights which are being oppressed. I have also witnessed the atrocious pain a family endures as one of our heroes return in a casket covered with the American flag; a pain, joined by pride, as families understand that their loved one joined a hard, thankless profession because they felt the call to selflessly serve others.

This month is veterans' month in which we honor veterans with numerous parades, ceremonies, and cookouts, thus reinforcing our community pledge in support of our veterans endorsed by our community and military leaders. The Quad-Cities is going a step further this year, and promoting a "We Hire Vets" campaign.

This campaign is being organized through the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce in order to provide momentum and awareness to local and regional businesses about the benefits of hiring veterans as they return from deployment, leaving the active duty ranks and rejoining their communities as a civilian.

Did you know that our veterans are in the highest unemployment rate class in the nation? Veterans are facing everyday obstacles as they return to their communities due to the fact that they feel like outsiders, they need time to adjust back to the civilian communal way of life, and they need to adjust mentally to being a civilian and working within a civilian environment. The armed forces realized this early on and for the past ten years have been providing programs to help veterans' transition properly back into the civilian community. But it is time for businesses to step in. Veterans bring enormous value to any organization.

Consider this:

-- Veterans are trained to treat all with respect and dignity regardless of race or creed to include his/her enemies. As you hire them, they will bring this culture and value to your workplace.
-- Veterans have an impeccably strong work ethic; they are dependable and disciplined. They have been trained to depend on their comrades to survive and realize that their success depends on their teammates. Winning is a team effort.
-- Veterans are trained to be leaders and managers. All have led formations and understand the responsibility bestowed to a leader: to gain and maintain the trust and confidence of his/her subordinates.
-- Veterans know the importance of integrity, respect, and professionalism -- all traits that give a team the winning edge.
-- Veterans understand accountability for his/her actions, particularly as it pertains to human resources.
-- Veterans undergo rigorous training in their specific functions, all relating it to civilian functions. And, they are physically fit.
-- Veterans carry and apply a positive attitude to get the job done. They have experienced combat and are trained to remain calm under fire and in the corporate world.
-- Veterans do not have to be reminded that their appearances reflect on themselves as an individual, the country, and their organization. They understand the impact appearances can have in foreign countries.
-- Veterans are tuned to global affairs as they experienced it first hand as ambassadors for the US in foreign lands. They see and understand the big picture and maneuver easily within such cultures.
-- Last but not least, we owe it to them. Yes, we do -- anyone who volunteers to fight for our freedoms and liberties not only deserves our respect and admiration, but also deserves a break as they return to be able to take care of their loved ones and rejoin the American dream.

I encourage you to not only attend the parades and thank the veterans of all our wars, but also to hire them and provide them the opportunity to rejoin the community as full-fledged civilians.
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yves Fontaine is the retired commander of the Army Sustainment Command on the Rock Island Arsenal.


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