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Op-Ed: Companies Moving Past Just Hiring Vets; They're Helping the Transition

Each time Veteran’s Day come along, I think about the time when I transitioned from active service member to civilian, and began looking for a new career.

It was the 90s, the beginning of the Internet age and job search engines were just being built. Organizations didn’t yet quite understand what experiences or skills sets military veterans could bring into their role. Veterans looking for civilian jobs depended primarily on military recruiters to help them find jobs and a good or bad experience was contingent on the company.

I worked for several companies but it wasn’t until I found a job at Amazon that I saw how a company could truly make an impact for their veteran employees. More than half of veterans leave their first civilian job within the first 12 months due to factors like low job satisfaction and limited opportunities for advancement. Amazon was a nice refreshing change.  

Amazon has created programs that help veterans succeed, including pathways to leadership roles, a devoted military recruitment team that offers mentoring and career support, and an internal affinity group to connect thousands of veterans throughout the company. This has enabled the company to employ more than 18,000 military veterans and spouses, and in 2016 it pledged to hire and train an additional 25,000 by 2021.

Here in the Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati area, we have more than 400 military veterans and spouses and I’ve been fortunate to hire and develop veterans myself at Amazon. In 2012, I mentored a fellow Army veteran who had recently left the Army. He is now a general manager at Amazon managing more than 2,000 Amazonians. It’s been rewarding to see these people grow in their career and it makes me proud to know that the company values the leadership skills and problem solving abilities that they bring to the table.

Other companies are doing the same and military recruiting has come a long way. The key is finding a company that not only hires veterans but also has the infrastructure to support you as one. Does the company connect you with other military colleagues? Do they have a good track record like being included on U.S. Veterans Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Companies Recruiting Veterans”? Are they committed to supporting you as you transition to civilian life?

Life after the military may feel a bit overwhelming and many retired service members search to find another meaningful mission. If you’re looking to transition, know that the possibilities are endless today and embrace the military experiences that you’ve earned. Your fellow veterans are here to support and honor you, today and every day.  

Greg Hardewig is a general manager of Amazon fulfillment operations in Hebron, an Ohio native, and a U.S. Army veteran. After graduating from West Point, he served five years in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division as an infantry officer.