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Michelle Obama: Veterans “Adept at Building and Leading Teams, Comfortable with Diversity,” Ideal for Construction


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On Sunday, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal in an op-ed titled, “Construction Companies Step Up to Hire Veterans.” She praised employers who hire veterans not just “because it’s the patriotic thing to do, and not just because they want to repay our veterans for their service to our country, but because these companies know that it’s the smart thing to do for their businesses.”  The First Lady labeled the construction industry’s pledge to hire more than 100,000 veterans by early 2019 a “huge deal.”

Mrs. Obama praises veterans for their ability to think outside the box while working in the team dynamic and recognizing transferable skills from their military careers.  The First Lady also praises those who hire veterans and place them in situations in which they can succeed.  

The CEOs we’ve spoken to have been consistently impressed with their hires, reporting that veterans are some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working employees they’ve ever had. Current research supports these claims: A report from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University states that veterans are resilient, adept at building and leading teams, comfortable with diversity, and able to handle uncertainty.

These traits come as no surprise given the training and experience the members of our Armed Forces get during their time in uniform. They master some of the most advanced information, medical and communications technologies in the world. They run complex operations, from distributing supplies to hundreds of locations to moving tons of equipment across the globe. They oversee dozens, even hundreds of their colleagues, inspiring servicemembers from diverse backgrounds to succeed.

Yet their qualifications aren’t always obvious from their résumés. Take the example of Glenn Tussing, who currently works at Disney. Glenn is an Air Force veteran who served as chief of future joint manpower requirements. In that role, he was responsible for figuring out the exact numbers and types of troops—from the pilots, to the engineers, to the medical personnel—needed for a mission to succeed. He would then locate those troops and help send them where they needed to go.

When Disney was looking for someone to oversee the menus at Disney properties around the world, it would have been easy for them to overlook Glenn since the link between manpower planning and menu management isn’t exactly intuitive. But Disney has trained its HR specialists to translate military experience into civilian qualifications. So when they were looking for someone who could determine the exact quantities and types of ingredients for every meal they served—and get that information anywhere in the world it needed to go—they knew Glenn was their guy. In fact, today at Disney, Glenn uses the same types of databases and programs he used in the military.

Mrs. Obama urges owners on in conclusion

By hiring veterans, businesses won’t just be giving American heroes the chances they deserve to keep serving our country. And they won’t just be giving veterans’ families the security that comes with a steady paycheck. These businesses will also be ensuring that they have the qualified employees they need to keep growing and creating new jobs and strengthening our economy for decades to come. And they will be sending a clear message that we honor those who’ve sacrificed for us, and are determined to serve them as well as they have served our country. America’s veterans deserve no less.

Read more about veterans and veteran hiring efforts in the construction industry on We Party Patriots.


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