My View: Don’t just thank a vet — hire one


The following op-ed by Don Brandt, chairman, president and CEO of APS, was published in the Phoenix Business Journal on Friday, November 6, 2015.

Instead of simply thanking a former mem­ber of the military this Veterans Day, Arizona employers should consider hiring one.

Our nation’s veterans placed their lives on the line to serve their country and protect the American way of life. That makes them worthy of our gratitude and praise. It also makes them leaders, motivators, pragmatists, team players and experts in getting things done.

Veterans have learned through experience what it means to work together toward a common goal. Their commitment is unparalleled. Nearly half of veterans in the 9/11 generation are between the ages of 25 and 34; they are highly qualified and ready to work. Yet sometimes these men and women have a difficult time making the transition to civilian employment.

One barrier is that many employers lack a good understanding of the training, experience and skills our veterans possess. Just as often, veterans do not understand the lexicon of business well enough to translate their military experience into a civilian resume.

When old stereotypes, misplaced concerns or lack of knowledge prevent a company from hiring a qualified veteran, they both lose. Arizona employers would be well served to take advantage of opportunities offered by Arizona agencies whose missions are to help match employers with veterans transitioning to civilian life.

The Arizona Veterans Supportive Employer program, backed by Gov. Doug Ducey, offers training to increase employer understanding of best practices for veteran hiring and retention, and aids companies in building their own veteran hiring strategies. Similarly, the Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment combines the efforts of public and private entities to connect service members, veterans and their families to employment opportunities, training and resources.

At Arizona Public Service Co., veterans make up more than 20 percent of our workforce. Our success is due in part to an increased understanding of how military careers can prepare employees for success in a variety of energy sector jobs — linemen trainees, supply-chain managers, information technology professionals, power plant operators and even nuclear engineers.

Once we hire veterans, we want to keep them. That’s why we created our Veteran Engagement Transition & Retention Network, an employee-run forum in which veterans can discuss their shared experiences moving into the private sector, and seek advice from those who have already navigated similar challenges.

Our commitment to employing veterans is not selfless. These qualified and dedicated individuals help us provide safe, reliable service to APS customers. The skills, leadership and work ethic they bring to that task is second to none.

I invite Arizona companies to find out for themselves what we have come to know: Hiring veterans is the right thing to do, and it makes good business sense.

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