WHITNEY: Military Recruiting Challenges Highlight Dire Need To Do More For Our Veterans

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Adam Whitney Contributor
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Our military is currently up against the most significant recruiting challenge it has faced in my lifetime, which poses a serious threat to national security. This is especially troubling when you consider the brewing conflict with multiple nations today.

On the surface, it may seem that this is due, at least in part, to the fact that our service members have been at war for most of the last two decades, but I don’t believe that’s the primary factor. As a veteran from a family with a long history of serving our nation, I can say with absolute confidence that is not the issue for most of our service members. They have always answered the call, regardless of the risk to their own lives.

The real problem is that while things have certainly gotten better for veterans returning to civilian life today compared to previous generations, there’s still a long way to go. The fact of the matter is that it’s hard to get people excited about serving when it means not only missing out on tremendous earning potential during their time in service, but also afterwards because most people aren’t well equipped for their transition back to civilian life. This is an even bigger problem in today’s economy, with soaring inflation making it harder for most Americans to make ends meet. For many, it’s a simple matter of being able to support their families.

As a service member who just retired and went through the transition process, I think I have a pretty accurate perspective of the flaws in the system. And as someone who started taking steps to prepare long before my retirement, I also think I have a solid plan to help my fellow service members get better prepared. 

The solution is a combination of government and private sector resources.

We need to start long before a service member begins the separation process. We can do this by implementing career counseling from someone with specialized training, to offer advice not only on their military career, but also their potential civilian career, starting when they get to their first duty station. This will give them the opportunity to start preparing far earlier, leading to more success down the road — regardless of whether they choose to stay in the military or return to the civilian world. And as these service members get closer to their EAS, they should be given far more time to handle the details of their transition.

Parallel to that, our military needs to develop relationships with the private sector to make more resources available to transitioning service members. There are already tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of organizations dedicated to serving our veterans in America today, and this network can provide just about anything a veteran might need, including career, entrepreneurial, financial and even health resources and support.

Some organizations have taken the initiative by reaching out to the veteran community themselves. Johns Hopkins University is one, with its recent move to help veterans land high-paying careers in real estate. A core part of this is its masters level real estate and infrastructure program, as you might expect. But the university is also hosting a series of events where attendees have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry, network with real estate professionals and meet with recruiters and career counselors — all for free.

Dr. David Phelps, who spoke at the inaugural event said, “Veterans have a discipline and a work ethic already built in, which is missing out there in the workforce today, so I think real estate’s challenging environment is perfect for veterans. They have an affinity for it, they’re more mature and they’ve already lived some life in some tough situations already. Ultimately, they get up every day and get after it. The character attributes veterans bring to the table are awesome assets for employers.” 

Jason Anderson, an Army veteran and panelist, added, “Drastic changes in the real estate market over the last few years have presented new and dynamic challenges. However, with challenging times come new opportunities, and few demographics are as effective in environments like this as our veterans. I love that Johns Hopkins University is putting them at the forefront of that mission because I believe vets are uniquely qualified in so many ways.”

Finally, the military needs to leverage its public affairs offices to engage with small businesses across America to educate employers on the unique knowledge, skills and character traits that veterans bring to the table. This is important because despite the progress made in changing public perception over the last two decades, many still believe that the only skills developed during service are directly related to killing the enemy. While we know veterans tend to have stronger leadership, adaptability and discipline compared to our civilian counterparts, many civilians don’t. In addition to educating employers, we also need to ensure they have a means to find and hire these veterans. That’s where the various organizations that support our nation’s veterans come in. 

They are already on the ground in local communities all over the country, engaged with the veteran community. They have the infrastructure and knowledge to help. Plus, they have something other organizations don’t — fellow veterans already trust them. And by collaborating with the military and civilian employers, they can provide a level of support that helps not only our veterans and their families, but local communities and the nation as a whole. 

This is not only the morally right thing to do, but also a matter of national security. So I encourage you to talk to your representatives at both the state and national levels and demand that they take action on this critical issue.

Adam Whitney is a Marine Corp veteran, entrepreneur, and real estate investor. In his spare time, he also runs a mastermind group that helps teens develop financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.