How many of us see homeless veterans every day, inhabiting our peripheral vision, deliberately overlooked due to the hard truth they represent? Many veterans wind up on the streets due to difficulty readjusting to civilian life after serving, and a big part of that is the daunting prospect of securing employment after they’ve effectively been out of the traditional job market for years at a time.
This problem led to the creation of the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, which recruits private employers to participate in a job database that allows qualified reserve service members, veterans and their family members to connect with job openings. Information about the program is available at www.employerpartnership.org.
Westboro, Mass.-based waste firm E.L. Harvey & Sons recently joined the program after learning about the problem of military unemployment from a speaker at an industry event. Ellen Harvey, E.L. Harvey’s executive vice president of corporate communications, says she was deeply distressed by the issue. “It made no sense to me. These people are serving our country, coming back, and they don’t have a job!”
E.L. Harvey, which employs 250 people, already had a policy in place to hold jobs for soldiers who are called to serve. But after learning of the depth of the problem, Harvey says the company wanted to do more. “The sad part of it is, some of them, because they are out of work for six months or a year, they deploy themselves again because at least it’s a form of income. They’ve served their country! But they’re going back because they can’t get a job. I feel very bad about that. They should have an option.”
Far from simple charity, Harvey says hiring service members benefits her company because the qualifications and demeanor of military job applicants often outstrips the run-of-the-mill employee. “After talking to them I realized the training they go through. They’re disciplined. They’re so up for work. Those are important things today, as we hire people sometimes who aren’t. These people are committed. They’re dedicated. They’re conscientious. So they’ve got all the values of people we want to hire.”
Harvey says she is working to convince other waste firms to join the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, and she is arranging for military personnel to come speak at National Solid Wastes Management meetings and other waste industry events. When reservations are expressed about the qualifications of ex-service members, she cites what one of them told her.
“One of the colonels said to me, ‘If they can drive over dirt roads in Afghanistan, guess what? They can drive your trucks here.’”
Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces