Men who have sacrificed so much for our freedom deserve to be taken care of (or at least be understood). Some guys that leave active duty have a rough time integrating back into society. We know this, its obvious and its frustrating. But what are we going to do about it? I am going to highlight my past experience after I left active duty about how my work ethic was perceived in my first post military job. My hope is to make other veterans aware of the small issues that arise while being employed in the civilian sector. I feel like I am always harping on the same few areas but its very important to me because I am about to graduate in May and apply for jobs. What I don’t want to do is run into the same barriers I ran into before I went back to college. Never make the same mistake twice.
Without a network and without a purpose Warfighters have less of chance to thrive in a civilian setting. When I left active duty I found that my “normal” operational tempo did not translate into a civilian workplace. I landed an environmental clean up technician job when I came home. Working for a small HAZMAT business owned by a Vietnam veteran, it was ideal for me. The work is not hard but what I loved about it was that I was on a “team.” In every job I ever want I want camaraderie. I was happy to be on a team. But as I learned my job, I became very efficient, getting jobs done that allowed for 3 days done in two and on to the next. What I didn’t know was that my efficiency was festering among other workers. Sometimes I worked so hard that my managers and other colleagues would tell me to, “slow down.” Or give me a look like, “what’s wrong with the crazy veteran today.” . I am not trying to “toot my own horn” but I knew how to get stuff done the right way, efficiently. and cost the company less. Instead of using me as a strength they drove me away from my own core values by uncalled for remarks and counseling sessions.. When in all actuality my tempo should be the standard, my work ethic should be used as a force multiplier and an asset to the company. A skill that any manager should want to utilize on his or her team. I left the job because others felt that I was trying to work them out of a job. I was constantly being called into the managers office and asked why I was working so hard, or “what’s wrong.”
In order for the Warfighter community to relay our skills to other civilian employers we have to establish a line of communication that allows managers, owners, and human resources to understand our skills. I second guessed my work ethic for the longest time and wondered if these people were right. They were wrong. My work ethic will allow me to succeed. I will not shy away from it nor will I stop holding others around me accountable for their own work ethic. I will make sure next time to put on my resume, that I work hard so that it does not offend others. Warfighters, keep charging forward and keep leading the way as we all change the civilian mindset to become veteran friendly!