IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Why Hiring Veterans Is a Smart Idea

Attention to detail, the ability to follow procedures, as well as security clearances are all reasons why those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces may be your next best employees. By Hank Hogan

THERE ARE CURRENTLY 20 MILLION military veterans in the United States, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. One of them could be your ideal next hire.

“Their ability to take direction is a plus, and completing jobs with extreme attention to detail is what sets them apart,” says Mike Ita, CEO of IT Corps, a Brooklyn, Ohio-based managed services company.

Another differentiator is their thorough familiarity with checklists, according to Frank Bravata, president of Cyber Brigade LLC, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based IT and security services provider. In the military, he notes, preventive maintenance checks and services, or PMCSs, are utilized to address most maintenance tasks, from cleaning a rifle to taking a Humvee out of the motor pool. Though Cyber Brigade’s mission bears little resemblance to that of a battle-ready platoon, its technical team is just as dependent on checklists and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“Much of what we do is SOP-based, and vets are used to following those with PMCSs and checklists,” Bravata says.

Moreover, with businesses quickly moving to the cloud, channel pros and their clients need professionals capable of provisioning and managing online solutions, notes Tracy Hankins, owner of Citadel Digital Security, a training firm and MSP based in Ekron, Ky. Veterans can be a perfect fit for such roles, he continues, because they often have the required skills as well as experience working remotely with little or no supervision.

What’s more, veterans are more likely to have security clearances required for some government projects and for managing highly protected client data. The process for acquiring those credentials can be lengthy, often involving extensive background checks, with top clearances taking up to a year to complete.

As a former Marine himself, Ita highlights another plus: Having veterans on staff has been a selling point for IT Corps. Some clients believe military service instills integrity in veterans, he notes, and prefer working with them as a result.

Set Realistic Expectations

Veterans do face some challenges moving from the military to civilian life. “Some veterans have service-connected disabilities that affect their mobility,” Hankins notes. “Many times, they cannot even leave their home.”

In addition to compromised mobility and other service-related problems, many don’t have IT certifications or technical training.

Cultural problems may get in the way too. For instance, the military has a strict chain of command, with well-defined responsibilities. Civilian work environments, Bravata notes, can be significantly different. “Many businesses are much less regimented, and as a result, it can be frustrating for them to try and figure out who is responsible for what,” he says.

Fortunately, Ita adds, the level of assistance available to veterans today is better and more comprehensive than when he left the service. Indeed, many programs these days stand ready to help veterans overcome these and other issues, including the National Association of American Veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project, VetJobs, and America Wants You. Creating IT Futures, a CompTIA-supported program, has helped hundreds of military veterans get the training and certifications they need to jump into the IT workforce.

AppRiver LLC, a provider of cloud-based security and productivity solutions headquartered in Gulf Breeze, Fla., offered yet another resource last year. The company’s Veteran-to-Entrepreneur program allowed qualified vets to collect a 100 percent refund on all revenue up to $5,000 earned through AppRiver during their first six months in the program. Enrollees also got free training and business advice, as well as website design help and access to AppRiver’s customized email marketing campaign tool and library of co-branded collateral.

“A lot of our veterans come out with many skills,” including technological capabilities, points out Robyn Philips, a senior channel sales adviser at AppRiver. With a little support, many can become capable technicians today and successful IT business owners tomorrow.

Image: Thinkstock Photos


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