According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in August 2019, the 3.4 percent veteran unemployment rate represented the 12th consecutive month this metric was lower than the non-veteran unemployment rate (at 3.6 percent) — an indication that the hiring of veterans is going strong.
According to retired Army Lt. Col. John Berry of Berry Law Firm, you can improve your veteran hiring and retention by making small changes to your interview process. Berry has filled his staff with veterans by following a few rules.
Among them is a list of questions to never ask, including:
• Do you have PTSD? It’s illegal to ask this mental-health question before a job offer has been made under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and even after, unless certain conditions are met. Second, it’s disrespectful.
• Have you ever killed anyone? Most veterans who served in combat don’t want to discuss the details service with a civilian. This question can be offensive, disconcerting or uncomfortable to the veteran who did have to take a life — and can be equally objectionable for veterans who made many sacrifices but did not have to take the life of another.
• Have you ever been shot? While the veteran may not have a current disability from an injury, you don’t want to take the chance of touching on what could be deep-seated emotional wounds and traumatic memories.
According to a Military.com article, here are a few other things one should avoid asking veterans:
• Is it hard to get back to real life after being in the military?
• How could you leave your family for so long?
• What’s the worst thing that happened to you?
• Were you raped?
There are also a few key concerns to bear in mind when managing veterans already on the payroll. According to Berry, here are top-line things to avoid:
• Don’t make fun of any military branch if you didn’t serve.
• Don’t bad-mouth military conflicts. You may think you are showing empathy by talking about “unnecessary” wars and saying veterans should not have had to make sacrifices. However, you may be speaking to a veteran who is proud to have served and respects the governmental decisions to go that route.
Also as reported on Military.com, civilians should, “Get to know somebody and take it slowly, just like you would with anyone else. Ask questions about who they are, where they’re from and what they like to do.”
Conversation starters included on Starbucks’ list include:
• How long did you serve?
• What did you do?
• Why did you choose that branch?
• Do you come from a military family?
• Did you visit any other countries?
• Where was your favorite place you lived?
“Veterans are some of the hardest working, dedicated and loyal employees you could ever hope to hire,” Berry notes. “In fact, they are the most important asset in my company.”
(Insights above are from veterans affairs attorney John Berry, a former Army officer. His Berry Law Firm received the U.S. Department of Labor’s “HIREVets Platinum Medallion” award, the highest federal honor a company can receive for employing veterans.)