U.S. Army veteran Jesus Gil speaks with a Mission Support Alliance recruiter about job opportunities with the organization during a Veteran & Community Job Fair on May 22 at the Howard Johnson Hotel.

Are you an employer looking for a dedicated employee? Try hiring a U.S. veteran!

Simply put, hiring veterans makes good business sense. Yet many employers have misconceptions about veterans in the workplace because of what we see in the movies or in the news.

Veterans are accustomed to hard work — and I mean really hard work with long hours in the most challenging of physical environments. From their very entrance into the military, these men and women have learned to follow orders, take constructive criticism, learn new skills, and most important, bear responsibility.

Want a team player? Vets have real-life experience working with a diverse group of people from all walks of life. From the start of their service, veterans have been taught to think in terms of what is best for all.

Veterans have transferable skills. Many have worked in complex operations, with specialized systems and computer software. They had to troubleshoot problems quickly. They routinely follow written policies and procedures and respect — no, value — safety protocol. They can see “the big picture” and quickly make sound decisions.

Businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans can also save money by taking advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. According to the Department of Labor and IRS, an “eligible veteran” is a veteran who “has a service-connected disability, is unemployed, or is receiving SNAP (food stamp) benefits.”

There is no limit on the number of eligible employees a business can hire for the credit; however, the employer must submit appropriate forms in a timely manner to the IRS. See esd.wa.gov/about-employees/WOTC for detailed information.

So why are hiring managers often overlooking veteran job seekers? Civilians often don’t know what a title like “platoon leader” or “sergeant” means. The title doesn’t mirror civilian occupations usually presented on a resume. Likewise, veterans may not know how to express their experience to someone who has never served.

Across Washington, and specifically Central Washington, veterans are hired by a wide range of private and public sector employers, including federal, state, and local government entities. Industries employing veterans include but are not limited to health care, transportation, production/manufacturing, professional office/business, and regional colleges and universities.

Many of our returning veterans had a college education prior to joining the military, and many pursued education after leaving the military, which makes them highly competitive when launching their new career.

If you have overlooked these talented candidates, connect with your local WorkSource office. (WorkSource Yakima County is located in the Ahtanum Ridge business park off Ahtanum and Longfibre Road, just south of Winco and Costco.) WorkSource has Veteran Employment representatives who connect employers and veterans. This specialized team is dedicated to helping veterans overcome barriers to employment and translating their military skills to demonstrate their value to the civilian workforce. (WorkSource services are free and available to the general public.)

Washington state also recognizes employers who support veterans through the YesVets program. Employers are encouraged to participate, free of charge, by visiting www.YesVets.org.

Other veteran employer recognition programs include the Washington State Hire-a-Veteran program and Department of Labor HIRE Vets Medallion program. Don’t miss this year’s local Hire-a-Veteran/YesVets ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at VFW Post 379 in Yakima.

Michelle Smith is an employer engagement analyst for the South Central Workforce Development Council in Union Gap. Contact her at michelle.smith@co.yakima.wa.us.

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