In the world of Track & Field, some running events require Athletes to jump over hurdles, those man-made obstacles found throughout a run toward victory. Veterans must face plenty of obstacles during their Military-to-Civilian career transition. This is a race you can run and win!


The word hurdle has many terms describing the same: difficulty, barrier, impediment, hindrance, obstruction, snag, or complication, come to mind.


In the Olympics, the Steeplechase event involves a 3000 meter run complete with 28 hurdles and 7 water jumps. No need to grab your running shoes today! These “hurdles” might be best understood as things Veterans need to realize and overcome.


I’d like you to consider just 5 Hurdles Veterans can face during the Military-to-Civilian career transition:


Hurdle #1 – The Patriotic Hurdle


While we’ve all witnessed the much-anticipated, extremely exciting, heart-warming, and highly memorable Homecoming Ceremonies for Troops returning from the war front, that same welcoming reception does not necessarily happen on the job front. It puzzles me how that just a few weeks ago I stood in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (along with hundreds of other travelers) applauding a group of approximately 50 World War II Veterans as they paraded through the terminal on their way to the Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC, yet I hear continuing stories of contemporary Veterans who can’t get recognized in terms of a job interview!


The Patriotic Hurdle is the idea that since a Veteran receives the much-deserved respect, recognition, and honor in a public setting that this same level of acceptance will translate into a hiring decision.


It doesn’t always happen that way, but it should.


Hurdle #2 – The Superhero Hurdle


No doubt, your military experience provided ample opportunity for you to learn plenty of things you never would have imagined had you not served! You have the ability to do many things. Think about that for a moment. Seriously, when you go home on leave, who has the most interesting stories to tell? Probably you!

While your Friends & Family sit amazed and all-ears listening to the details that you’re authorized to share, inevitably someone will comment on some of the “Superhero Powers” you have. This usually comes in the form of someone saying, “Man, I don’t know how you can do all that! You’re incredible! Wow! I’m glad you’re serving because it takes a special person to do what you do!”


That said, your Superhero abilities that Family & Friends admire might pose a threat to a potential Employer. Does the person you want to work for feel threatened by all you’ve done? What impressed your closest people at home might also leave a prospective Employer unimpressed!


Let’s just say that if you come across as somebody who thinks you can do anything, you might soon feel like there’s Kryptonite nearby, in the form of not getting a callback on your job application, not getting the job, or even prolonged periods of unemployment. You may feel powerless, unless you figure out a way to overcome this hurdle.


Hurdle #3 – The You Owe Me Hurdle


This hurdle represents a very bad place to be. Read carefully so you understand the idea here. If you served our Country, the people you selflessly protected owe you a huge debt of gratitude! They owe you respect for the sacrifices you’ve made. They owe you the right to all the promises made to you and the benefits of service.


But, do they owe you a job?


One of the quickest ways to drop out of consideration from a job is to come across as though somebody owes you something. (In this case a job.)


There’s been a lot of internet traffic with this mindset as of late. I know we all have strong feelings about the unemployment rate amongst Veterans. I recognize that Veteran unemployment is a bad thing that we need better solutions for. But, in order to get hired, you need to overcome this hurdle, especially if it is blocking your progress toward getting that job!


Hurdle #4 – The Plug ‘n Play Hurdle


This hurdle is the cousin of the Superhero hurdle to an extent. The Plug ‘n Play Hurdle represents the idea that since you did something in the military, you can automatically do it in the civilian world.


For example:


  • The former military commander who thinks he/she can fit perfectly into a CEO role.
  • The military instructor who can easily step into a corporate trainer role.
  • Anybody who purposely tries to introduce a military job or practice into a civilian company without modifying it so that it works effectively!

Your best bet might be to first, pay close attention to how you communicate your experience, and second, ask about the company’s leadership development program. Then, listen!


Hurdle #5 – The Square Peg/Round Hole Hurdle


This hurdle involves our career path or career choice in addition to our job title we plan to pursue. I want you to think about your past or present military job:


  • What was your job title?
  • How many people did you supervise?
  • What additional duties did you have?
  • What special training did you have?

Last question; and it’s an important one:

Do you truly wish to do the same exact job again after the military?


Does it make sense to try to leverage your Platoon Sergeant or Platoon Leader, Company Commander or First Sergeant, or Command Sergeant Major or Battalion/Squadron Command experience into the civilian equivalent? Do you wish to cookie-cut, convert, or morph what you’ve already done into something that resembles what you’re already done? You could spend an eternity trying to recreate what you’ve already done OR you can blaze a new trail as a civilian – the choice is yours!


So, there you have it! 5 Hurdles Veterans Can Face provides a few things to think about!


Which of the 5 Hurdles presents the biggest challenge for you? What tips can you share in how to overcome these hurdles?

1 Comment
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thank You for reading and sharing!