Amid the bevy of contractors large and small seeking to do business with the Army, and representatives of the service itself and other government agencies taking part in the 2015 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, one group of exhibitors has a completely different mission. They want soldiers – past and present – to come to work for them.
Though these organizations were as varied as the job landscape itself, they shared a common reason for positioning themselves at an event that would be sure to draw the applicants they need. Former service members who enter the civilian workforce bring a strong work ethic, they say.
"Veterans bring discipline, an understanding of safety standards, timeliness, and the ability to successfully accomplish a mission," said retired Sgt. Maj. Robert Kendall of the Heavy Equipment College of Georgia.
Kendall himself joined the school – which operates as a private company – after visiting a job fair near Redstone Arsenal, Ala., shortly before retiring earlier this year.
The company, which conducts four-tier training courses for heavy-equipment operators, turned out to be a perfect fit, Kendall said. Many of his fellow trainees were veterans as well.
"It turned out like a high school reunion with folks you never knew before, but you all had something in common," Kendall said.
After completing training, Kendall quickly moved into his role as a military liaison for the company. He found that soldiers who were interested "wanted to do something different from what they were doing throughout their career," he said.
ADS Inc., of Virginia Beach, Va., the largest provider of tactical operations equipment and solutions to the U.S. government, typically is looking for junior officers with an understanding of the procurement process. Program management is a plus, said Jennifer Edwards, the company’s vice president of human resources.
Edwards noted that a third of the company’s 400-person workforce consists of veterans.
"We hire at all levels," Edwards said, adding that younger veterans could find jobs at ADS in sales.
Stevens Transport, the nation’s fourth largest overland mover of refrigerated cargo, recently started a veterans’ apprenticeship program. The family-owned company, based in Dallas, is offering veterans on terminal leave a chance to take the Class A driving course at company expense. In exchange, veterans who complete the course would drive for Stevens for at least one year, said John Stage, a company recruiter and retired sergeant first class.
"Discipline is the main thing veterans bring," said Stage.
Thirty percent of the company’s employers are veterans; 30 percent are female as well. Stevens Transport operates a fleet of 2,000 trucks nationwide.