I know firsthand how military experience carries over into civilian business skills. At my last job, I had the great privilege of working for two former soldiers, both Desert Storm veterans. After a very short time there, it was crystal clear to me how their time in the Army had shaped their leadership styles, organizational skills, work ethics, and attitudes. It made them amazing people to work with and to work for.
As a military wife, I get to watch my husband and his coworkers learn the skills, gain the experience, and develop the attitudes that will one day make them great employees, great coworkers, and great leaders in the civilian world. I understand, like my husband and my former coworkers, why military veterans have so much potential as civilian leaders in all sorts of ventures. The military teaches leadership, accountability, teamwork, reliability, stress management, determination, loyalty, and flexibility – not just theory learned in a classroom, but real-world application. Veterans are decisive, comfortable with diversity, goal-oriented, and work well even extreme pressure.
Unfortunately, many decision-makers in corporate America lack the experience to recognize that potential. My husband once encountered a former Army officer who struggled to make even the most basic application of his military experience clear to a prospective employer. When asked if he had any leadership experience, this former Army captain explained that he had been a company commander, responsible for leading an organization of over hundred people and nearly a million dollars’ worth of equipment and other assets. “Okay,” said his interviewer, “but do you have any leadership experience?”
That disconnect between military experience and civilian qualification is common enough that stories like that are the exception, rather than the rule. One of the most popular topics of discussion on military community websites and forums is “How do I translate my military experience into civilian terms on a job application?” While strategies for wording resumes and answering interview questions are undeniably useful on an individual level, ultimately the answer requires getting the message to the business community – veterans have skills, experience, goals, and a ton of potential.
Film Annex and its founder, Frecesco Rulli, have launched a program that enables and empowers veterans to convey that message in a very powerful way.
The Global Initiative for Veteran Entrepreneurship (GIVE) helps individual veterans by giving them a platform to promote their business ideas and reach potential investors. GIVE’s series of veteran interviews showcases each veteran’s goals and ideas, as well each veteran’s own explanation of how military training and experience are assets applicable to those business goals. These video interviews and their message offer the potential not only for business opportunities for individual veterans, but powerful advocacy for the broader military community.