What’s your perception of a veteran?

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young male solider in camouflage clothing next to chelsea pensioner

As an avid LinkedIn user, I recently asked this question to my connections.  The post went viral with over 50 comments and was seen by nearly 13,500 people, bringing about a healthy debate and discussion.  The responses were quite varied and extremely interesting; providing an insight from both those who have and do employ ex-military personnel to the veterans themselves.  It did bring up the question too of what a veteran actually is.

What is a veteran?

To many, the image that springs to mind when you mention a veteran is probably of a Chelsea Pensioner – someone of a certain age who has served in the forces for many years and has seen active service.

Did you know that being a veteran is defined as;

“anyone who has served for at least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve) or Merchant Mariners who have seen duty on legally defined military operations.”

Many felt the word was too American and that ex-military was more fitting – one mentioned that they didn’t wear a veteran’s badge either.  But with the melding of these cultural differences of the English language, people are more accepting of Americanisms nowadays.

Perceptions of veterans

These fell into two camps – those who have served and are therefore veterans and those who feel that they are an underrated talent pool.

From those who have served:

  • “Veterans are a bunch of hard-working individuals, not scared to put in the hours when necessary. We have a fantastic work ethic & attention to detail.”
  • “Great work ethic, integrity, fast learner to any new subject matter, loyal when made to feel included and part of a bigger plan, good trainers with strong leadership, not afraid of putting the hours in when the “sh#t goes down”, organised, doesn’t panic when the pressure increases…the list could be endless.”
  • “The Military create great and sound minded leaders that consistently deliver under unbelievable stress and yet we do it with a smile, thriving on whatever challenge is going to come next.”
  • “Hard working, Loyal, Dedicated, Trustworthy”
  • “As a veteran myself, I feel one of the main attributes we have is the self-confidence that allows us to take risks and accept responsibilities. Decision making and responsibility go hand in hand, and effective leaders assume risk and accept responsibility. Therefore, self-confidence comes into play as an important factor in a leader’s willingness to make decisions. We absorb information, assess courses of action, weigh the risks, make the decisions, and assume the responsibility.”
  • “committed, adaptable, loyal, hardworking and reliable.”

The consensus of opinion is that veterans are hard-working, with a dedicated and loyal ethos.  They take responsibility seriously and are proactive in everything they do.  Some commented that employers can have preconceived ideas about how they will behave and fit in which was unfounded and quite the opposite to the truth.

From those who feel they are underrated:

  • “Prefer to use the term ‘untapped resource talent’”
  • “I would have to say an underused commodity that people are all too quick to dismiss.”
  • “Overlooked, underrated, adaptable, reliable, conscientious, dedicated, disciplined, ability to work unsupervised, happy to travel (as long as they’re not staying in a tent), time/people management……..”
  • “Misunderstood (sic) and not recognized for the full abilities and achievements which they could provide to civilian enterprises with just the basics like Discipline Honor Integrity.”
  • “Hardworking, misunderstood and brushed aside for many jobs.”
  • “Most proud of their service but let down by others.”
  • “Veterans may not have the qualifications that some jobs require but have life experience that easily out weighs the qualification. I’d say a lot can do the job stood on their head as we are so adaptable.”

It was felt that, after leaving the military, veterans should get more support (but that’s another blog!) and that civilians don’t appreciate what an untapped resource talent pool there is available.  Obviously, this is an issue which I am working to address and increase the employment opportunities for veterans.

Informing and educating employers to the benefits of taking on veterans as members of their team is a passion which is at the heart of why we do what we do and will be the topic of a forthcoming blog.