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Hire a Vet

I wrote an article in this web site's blog on Remembrance Day encouraging organizations to consider hiring our returning veterans because of the unique skills they have to offer. At the time of that writing I was not aware that the federal government had a hiring policy in place to give preference to injured or wounded veterans when hiring a resource to fill a government post. This policy has been in existence since 2005 and I was made aware of it by a news story appearing in the Toronto Star newspaper reporting on the potential impact of government spending and hiring cutbacks on the policy.

The government policy is only applicable to veterans released from the military due to medical reasons and it appears to be driven by the government's sense of responsibility for supporting these folks when they can no longer serve in the military. Although I stand by my original article's premise that all veterans who have served in a combat zone have acquired a unique set of skills and abilities that make them attractive to an employer, I certainly would not argue with the government's approach. MPs and Senators who feel that our country owes these veterans employment opportunities should be supported in that view. The policy should be implemented by the civil service and I would hope that every veteran who has left the military for health reasons will be given an employment opportunity that is attractive to them. I also hope that those veterans are not asked to carry the burden of austerity measures.

Let's talk a little about the policy as I understand it. The policy requires a hiring (federal civil service) manager to give consideration to the veteran when the veteran satisfies all other hiring criteria. The policy would give preference to the veteran over a civilian applying for the same job, provided the veteran met all the hiring criteria. That's good as far as it goes, but as a veteran pointed out on another blog, asking that the wounded veteran have a University degree will pretty well eliminate any non-officer ranks from applying. I would say that the policy could be improved by stating that unless the criteria is directly applicable to the job (e.g. an accounting certification when the job calls for financial audits), it should not trump the veteran's priority. Of course this stuff should be common sense for any hiring manager. The objective is to hire the candidate that will give the employer the best result; the criteria should be intelligently set to achieve that goal.

The policy, as I understand it, only deals with veterans released from the military for medical reasons. Since I'm sure that most of the work government employees do does not require manual labour, these vets would be eligible for most government jobs, providing they meet other reasonable criteria. I would like to see the policy extended to include veterans who manage to complete their service without being physically or mentally harmed. I certainly feel an obligation to veterans who have risked their lives serving their country, as I'm sure most Canadians do. I'm also sure that veterans are not looking for a hand-out or charity, nor should they be made to feel they are receiving any. The policy should be viewed as the repayment of a debt.

People who are motivated to hire a veteran out of a sense of duty, or debt, to veterans should be supported in that view. I would add that hiring that vet will yield the employer additional benefits. The combat veteran will bring an ability to deal with stress and risk that no civilian would be able offer. As I point out in the earlier article, the stress they face when under fire would make them ideal candidates for facing any stress a civilian job might throw at them. I am also certain that the ability to work together as part of a team is well developed in the military and that ability is also a desirable quality in candidates for many jobs. I think that the policy could benefit from the realization that combat veterans are able to offer some skills and abilities that are uniquely theirs due to their roles in combat. The government may be paying off a debt to these veterans, but we are getting something of value in return so veterans should feel that they are being selected because of their abilities, not their disabilities.

So an "attaboy" to the government for implementing the "hire a vet" policy. Keep up the good work and don't let the austerity programme negatively impact it. Why not look at expanding it to include combat veterans who have left the military after completing their service without physical or mental damage? Our debt is not just to those veterans who have sacrificed their health, but also to those who have taken a tremendous risk on our behalf. I'd also like to see the government advertise the policy, not just the repayment of a debt, but the benefits that veterans are uniquely able to bring to the job, so that employers in the private sector can be influenced to adopt the policy.

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