Post Service Careers Have Strategic Military Effects (An Opinion Piece)

(Upfront Disclosure, this is not a critique of any service member currently serving or who have served, but a thought provoking article on how we can recruit more talent in the future.)

So you read the title and decided to read because how could a post service civilian job have any kind of an effect on our military capability? Well, here I make the argument that is does have effects, and in order to ensure we have the highest military capabilities, we have a responsibility to ensure our service members have strong and fulfilling careers post service.

So let’s get into this. The effects that I see, come from our ability to recruit talent. Some would say we don’t have a problem recruiting, we are hitting our marks and getting our units filled out. On paper (and I am not part of HRC so I wouldn’t know) I am sure it seems we are finding ways to hit the stats. If you need evidence that we are at least trying, look at the $300 million we are spending in bonuses and recruiting efforts to hit those numbers (USATODAY, 2017). But there is a deeper problem than just hitting numbers that could cause the strategic effects that I am talking about. That problem is the opportunity loss when talent decides to never come into the military. A Washington post survey found that 85% of high school students that were surveyed said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military (Politico, 2015). Why such a high percentage? Possibly because military service over going directly to college/private sector seems like a career -stopper rather than starter. For the military, this statistic coupled with the population that wouldn’t even meet the physical, intellectual, or heath standards and we have our selves a talent squeeze. What does a talent squeeze mean for the military? It means doing more with less; it means having to take some B-team players when the job is going to take the A-squad. What does this mean for us as a nation? An increased risk exposure because we may be fielding a military that isn’t quite up to the challenges it may face.

Image found at popularmilitary.com

So how do we overcome this obstacle? The Army was on the right track when they tried running commercial about joining the Army to be a graphic designer, the messaging on it was just a little off. We certainly need to pitch the military as a stepping stone/career launcher because by doing this, and following through on it, we will be able to continue to attract talent over the private sector, even if it is for short a duration of service. However, the messaging and the execution needs to be flawless. We need men and women to join to military to be warriors, to stand in the gap, and protect those that cannot protect themselves. Finding those folks, is up to our great recruiters across the nation. As for the execution of making the military a career jump starter, the responsibility lies on the rest of us. We must ensure we are covering our service member’s six when they are off doing the nations work. How do we do this? We help them develop, grow, and broaden their skills and professionalism. That way, when the time comes for them to lay down the sword and shield, we can ensure they are taken care of. Research narrows a successful transition to civilian life down to 5 pillars, the cornerstone being employment. It is likely that post-service employment is also the cornerstone to recruiting talent into the military. Overall, the conclusion is that when you provide great talent with great opportunities, you will only continue to attract great talent. I feel that this is a truth we all can live by when it comes to fielding the world’s best military.

(I Plan to continue to expand this series on strategic impact and would love to get opinions of those in the field, please feel free to contact me at luke@oweyaa.com)

OweYaa is a platform and service that is helping veterans and military spouses build better careers through an integrated training and internship experience while creating a productive hiring process for growing companies. It was founded out of the need to go beyond just translating military skills into civilian skills and instead provide a platform for veterans and military spouses to showcase their talents to companies. Learn more at OweYaa.com

Luke Jenkins is a member of the Active Duty Military and USMA grad who helped to identify the need for a more integrated process to hiring, especially within the transitioning military community.

Works Cited