From the Armed Forces to the Workforce: Getting Veterans Back to Work






Next Monday, May 25th, is Memorial Day. Many of us, myself included, are looking forward to long weekends with family to launch the start of the summer. But Memorial Day has a deeper meaning—it’s a national holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in our armed forces. Many families and volunteers will spend time this weekend decorating the graves of soldiers with flags and flowers.

Life in the military can be hard on soldiers and their families, both when actively serving and when returning home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. veteran population was more than 21 million strong as of 2014.[1] Given the advanced technical training, effective leadership skills, and strong work ethic that soldiers develop while in the military, one would likely think that veterans would be highly sought after in today’s competitive job market.

However, the data says otherwise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the unemployment rate for Gulf War II veterans was 9 percent as of November 2014—25 percent higher than that for nonveterans at 7.2 percent.[2] Further, the unemployment rate for veterans has been higher than the nonveteran unemployment rate since the start of the recession.[3] And, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy, the most serious concerns among veterans upon returning home include the applicability of military training to education / jobs (at 84 percent), job placement (at 82 percent), and career counseling (at 79 percent).[4]

Many organizations today are already committing resources and implementing programs to help veterans find work. In some cases, organizations consider supporting veteran hiring initiatives an integral part of their employment brand. To help those employers go further and for the 55 percent of employers surveyed that do not yet participate in veteran-specific recruiting initiatives,[5] I have written a complimentary research report to provide inspiration and help in the development of a business case for veteran hiring initiatives. From the Armed Forces to the Workforce: Why Veteran Hiring is Both the Right thing to Do and a Smart Move to Make includes detailed information about what select companies are doing in terms of five types of veteran initiatives:

  • Implementing significant veteran hiring targets

  • Providing business skills training

  • Developing military-friendly hiring websites

  • Attending military job fairs

  • Offering internships and scholarships.

The report also includes detailed lists of resources for both organizations and veterans:

  • Organizations that educate companies on how to build veteran-friendly hiring practices

  • Veteran job boards

  • Services and publications to prepare veterans for employment

Both of my grandfathers served in the Army in World War II and my father served in the Army Medical Corps, so writing this report has been a labor of love. With the volume of veterans entering the workforce continuing to increase (240,000 to 360,000 veterans each year[6]), it is my hope that the information shared in this report about what makes veterans such valuable employees—as well as what other companies are doing and the many resources available—will inspire more organizations to embark on their own veteran hiring initiatives. It is, after all, not just the right thing to do but also a smart move to make.

Download the report here and please share with your networks on social media:

As always, feel free to add a comment below, connect with me on Twitter @RAEricksonPhD, or by email at

P.S. Please join me and my colleagues at two upcoming Bersin Talent Acquisition webinars in the next three weeks:





This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.



[1] Source: “Employment Situation of Veterans Summary,” United States Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 20, 2014,  

[2] Source: “Employment and unemployment among all veterans, Gulf-War era II veterans, and nonveterans,” United States Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 10, 2014,

[3] Source: “Why is joblessness for veterans so high?” MoneyWatch / Constantine von Hoffman, May 23, 2014,  

[4] Source: “Veteran Unemployment,” / John Ebersole, November, 15, 2013,  

[5] Source: “Veterans Talent Index,”, 2014, veterans-talent-index.  

[6] Source: The Fast Track to Civilian Employment: Streamlining Credentialing and Licensing for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Spouses, Executive Office of the President / National Economic Council and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, February 2013, licensing_report_2-24-2013_final.pdf.

Robin Erickson

Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

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