SHRM Myths and Facts about Hiring Veterans

As we recognize Veteran’s day this week, we wanted to share 5 myths and facts about hiring veterans provided by SHRM summarized below.

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020, 18.5 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 7 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and over. Of all veterans, 1 in 10 were women. In the survey, veterans are defined as men and women who have previously served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were civilians at the time these data were collected.

Veterans make up a significant portion of the workforce and given the challenges today to find qualified workers, it makes good business sense to hire veterans.

Although many companies have strong programs focused on hiring veterans, some myths still exist about whether veterans can be successful after their time in the military. SHRM outlines them as follows based on their From We Will To At Will: A Handbook for Veteran Hiring, Transitioning, and Thriving in the Workplace (SHRM, 2018), by Justin Constantine with Andrew Morton.

Myth 1: Military skills don’t translate into the civilian workforce.

Fact: It is well documented that veterans bring extensive leadership experience, mission focus, teamwork, and initiative to the corporate environment. Besides these and other “soft” skills, however, many service members receive security clearances for the work they do, and those clearances often remain active for two years after they leave the military. Hiring a veteran with an active clearance can save employers tens of thousands of dollars and six to twelve months in background checks. Veterans also bring with them detail work histories and specialized training in a plethora of fields. In fact, military jobs are categorized into more than seven thousand occupational specialty codes, and a significant majority of them directly correlate to positions in the private sector. Often, jobs in the military are identical to those in the civilian sector, only more demanding.

Myth 2: All veterans served in combat.

Fact: While it is true that we have had significant numbers of troops deployed to combat since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that was not always the case. There are significant numbers of veterans in the workforce who left the military before 9/11 and never deployed, and there are also plenty of veterans from the post-9/11 generation who have never deployed. It is reported that about 80 percent of the jobs in the military are noncombat occupations, and those include roles found in the finance, logistics, administration, broadcasting, human resources, healthcare, and engineering sectors.

Myth 3: All veterans have PTSD and it makes them unemployable.

Fact: Due in large part to military movies and stories in our media, many think that all veterans have PTSD. However, the numbers do not bear this out. Studies conclude that 10-20 percent of post-9/11 combat veterans have PTSD, which equates to approximately five hundred thousand people. Compare that number to the 8 percent of civilians in America who will experience PTSD throughout their life (often from car accidents, violent assaults, rape, natural disasters, and growing up in traumatic environments), which is approximately twenty-six million people.

Myth 4: Veterans can only follow orders.

Fact: While service members certainly learn and adhere to the value of strictly following orders while in boot camp and officer candidate school, every veteran has had experience leading other people. With promotions come greater responsibility and more opportunities for initiative and creative problem-solving. The military prides itself on its leaders providing their intent, and then, without micromanaging, pushing the responsibility to accomplish the mission down to lower levels. This is especially true in a deployed environment where there are far too many variables for a commander to control, and even the most junior members make many decisions every day. Veterans are taught to accomplish the mission and get the job done, and that often involves an independent thought process.

Myth 5: National Guard and Reserve employees have unpredictable schedules.

Fact: The typical training schedule for those who continue to serve our country includes one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. That training does not just pop up, and the details will usually be made available months in advance. This is also true in the case of a scheduled deployment. Members of the National Guard and Reserve do occasionally get called up to active duty with no notice in the case of natural disasters or emergency military deployments. However, these are opportunities for your employees to serve their community (and yours) when they are needed most, and should be understood.

If your company is struggling to find qualified workers, consider developing a program to attract veterans.


At Transition Solutions, we have been helping companies and individuals with workforce changes for thirty years. Our strong reputation for consistently delivering exceptional service at value sets us apart. If you would like more information on our services please check out our website at https://www.transitionsolutions.com/ or you can contact us directly at 888-424-0003 or email us at info@transitionsolutions.com.

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