6 Veteran Qualities that Translate to the Workplace

A program manager with Hire America's Heroes leads a panel discussion during a career symposium for military women in transition at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Juliana Mercer, a program manager with Hire America's Heroes, leads a panel discussion during a career symposium for military women in transition at the Pacific Views Events Center at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 9, 2014. (Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Military vets live by a strict moral code forged by adversity and intensive training, both physical and mental. The intensity of their responsibilities develop them as leaders as well as trust-builders in a short period of time.

Their experiences make them perfect candidates for private-sector jobs, according to Ed Hiner, an elite Navy SEALs trainer and author of "First, Fast, Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL."

Here are six qualities of the military vet that translate seamlessly to the workplace:


Veterans live by a strict warrior ethos bound by virtues such as honor, courage, commitment, loyalty and integrity. These fundamentals become part of their DNA. Most employers know that character is the foundation on which all else is built.

Veterans have lived -- and some have survived their time on the battlefield -- by the very strength of their character. Their virtues travel with them wherever they go.


Trust is the invisible thread that ties everything together in an organization. Trust is also at the base of a veteran's character. At an early age, service members are placed in situations of great responsibility for America's missions, equipment and often one another's lives.

Trust is critical for mission success. It's like oxygen; everyone notices when it's not there.


Excuses are not acceptable. Service members learn to shoulder authority and assume extreme ownership of the outcome of their missions. They take pride in their individual accountability, a trait invaluable to accomplish any mission -- a trait integral to organizational success.


The foundation for any elite organization is the ability to work as a team to accomplish the mission, often placing the greater good of the team's success over their individual goals. Veterans understand that the "secret sauce" of teamwork is sacrificing their own self-interest for the good of the mission and the team.

Leadership and Followership

Service members at every stage of their military careers are "baptized by fire" and learn leadership early on. From Day 1, each member of the military is given authority over others and are held accountable for them and the success of the mission.

On the flip side of that coin, they also learn how to follow. A leader is nothing without followers, and being a good follower is as important as being a good leader. Military people understand this like no other people in society.

Facing the Enemy

No matter what branch of service, a veteran has faced adversity and discomfort. Some have faced the ultimate adversity and fought wars. No matter how difficult the circumstances, service members are required to "keep on gettin' it on."

The heat of adversity forges a very strong work ethic in every veteran.

Lt. Cmdr. Ed Hiner was a U.S. Navy SEAL for 20 years. He serves as a coach and consultant specializing in leadership, team building, mental toughness and personal conflict resolution. He is the author of "First, Fast, Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL."

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