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Updated July 2021
The RAND Corporation, a well-respected research group, published “A Needs Assessment of New York State Veterans,” that described the mental, physical, emotional, and employment challenges a select group of New York State military veterans (Gulf War II) were facing. A common theme in the report was the lack of quality employment options and low employment satisfaction military veterans were facing upon their return from combat to the civilian world.
One veteran stated, “One of the big misconceptions . . . coming off active duty [is that] you walk on water. Companies are going to be coming to find you. They’re going to be recruiting you. [You] never really had that reality check, that . . . you’ve been out of the mix for years. And what you’re doing is not relevant to what’s going on in the civilian world. And they are more impressed with your Microsoft certifications than they are with your leadership time.”
The under employment rate, a tight job market for meaningful and purposeful work, and the overall malaise of the economy are incredibly hard realizations for veterans, especially for younger veterans. The challenge for veterans and Gulf War II veterans who returned or are returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is how to react to the negative information. There are three stark choices: (1) Do nothing, (2) be pessimistic and (3) understand and proactively act to apply military skills to what employers need. Veterans need to adopt an “I Can!” mindset.
The transition from “Can I?” to an “I Can!” mindset requires an incredibly strong sense of acceptance and the ability to transform negative information to positive action for veterans as they transition, plan, and advance their careers. Veterans must understand the overall challenges of finding purposeful employment in the economy, which industries are ascendant and which are falling, and what skill sets employers require for the future. Mounds of negative economic information and a challenging career landscape can be daunting, that can easily lead to the “Can I?” perspective, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence. A “Can I?” mindset destroys career progress, career planning, and self-confidence.
Harnessing negative career and economic information is essential to make a veteran’s career advancement into an “I Can!” success story. Veterans cannot change the state of the economy and employer hiring practices. Veterans CAN change their attitude and constructively plan to mitigate negative economic information. This ability to turn negatives into positives is essential for their career advancement. The “I Can!” attitude makes a veteran proactive in their career advancement.
Military veterans need to make “Can I?” into “I Can!” to promote all they can do for companies.
Have you been able to move from a “Can I?” into an “I Can!” mindset? Share your success story and advice below.
About the blogger:
Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success. Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
 Terry L. Schell and Terri Tanielian, editors; “A Needs Assessment of New York State Veterans: Final Report to the New York State Health Foundation,” Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; 2011. Page 30.
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