Federal agencies have assumed great efforts to support veteran employment. The Department of Defense (DoD) is no different and is the nation’s largest employer of veterans. Even in some geographic areas with numerous opportunities for veterans to fully integrate into the civilian sector, many veterans choose employment with a DoD organization or one of the local contractors supporting the DoD organization. The veterans’ desire to gain employment with a DoD or supported agency seems to be well matched with the DoD organizations’ desire to hire veterans. In [Institution’s] region, the demand for engineering graduates has grown significantly over the past decade as new industries and their feeder industries continue to grow. At the same time, DoD organizations and their contracted subsidiaries in the area have only marginally grown. However, even with the high demand for engineers in the civilian sector, engineering student veterans still pursue DoD employment. In both government and civilian sectors, there has emphasis on producing engineers that are technically proficient and possess professional skills such as leadership, organization, time management, and communication.
Surveys and follow up qualitative interviews, conducted individually with representatives from some local DoD organizations, suggest that these organizations receive abundant value from veterans. Veterans are noted for their leadership skills and teamwork; for their flexibility and ability to work in a changing environment without undue stress; for their dependability, integrity, and loyalty. Their military experience often fosters growth of these professional skills and make them effective and admired among peers in these organizations.
Surveys of student veterans indicate the desire to work with other veterans, work in a somewhat familiar organization with a hierarchy and lateral subunits like many military organizations, and a personal desire to work on equipment supporting the defense mission but in a different capacity. In addition, many of the DoD organizations offer generous benefits compared to some civilian employers, opportunities for personal and professional growth, travel, and advancement.
This paper discusses some of the professional skills recognized in veterans, as well as the cultural climate in some of the DoD organizations that attract engineering student veterans. It then provides examples of veterans in different DoD organizations as well as the civilian sector for comparison.
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