Unleash Their Potential

Business documents at a meeting

The Center for Talent Innovation released a ground-breaking study on veterans' performance in the workforce. The findings highlighted a problem that veterans have known about individually and quietly for years, yet have spoken little about.

Over the past decade, as America has struggled to help returning veterans to acclimate into the civilian workforce, hundreds and thousands of veteran hiring initiatives sprung up. Unfortunately, CTI's findings show that while America has been very enthusiastic and incredibly supportive about getting veterans jobs, her attention and support fades afterwards, resulting in veterans stalling in their careers.

What this means is that getting people jobs is not enough. Employers and company recruiters cannot simply pat themselves on the back and think that because they constantly participate in the unending mass of veteran job fairs that their jobs are done.

Every successful company in the world invests in its employees. In fact, many have had to institute company-wide policies, initiatives, and schools to develop and improve human talent. Then it should come as no surprise that unlocking the particular value that veterans bring to each company ought to be developed as well.


The study was released in conjunction with the book, Mission Critical: Unlocking the Value of Veterans in the Workforce, co-authored by Mike Abrams, Julia Taylor Kennedy, and the Center for Talent Innovation. Statistics show that the majority of veterans just don't flourish and succeed at their jobs, and this study only confirms these sad findings:

  • 2% of veterans have sponsors (senior leaders who get behind talent and advocate for their advancement)
  • 64% of veterans say they had a greater sense of meaning and purpose in the military than their current job.
  • 49% of veterans say they have had their colleagues make false assumptions about them based on their military experience.
  • 30% of veterans with a service-connected injury or disability have not disclosed it to their employer.
  • Over 25% of veterans downplay or avoid drawing attention to their service in the military.

Veterans are highly ambitious and skilled, and form an amazing talent pool. Yet as the book shows, once veterans transition into civilian careers, they become one of the most poorly understood of employee populations. Most of our business leaders are not capable of seeing their full potential, mainly due to a lack of education. This is not particularly anyone's fault, but carries significant costs for both employees and employers. The sad reality is that just 13% of organizations that hire veterans are familiar with the resources available to help transitioning veterans. This lack of understanding results in veterans tuning out and stalling in the workplace, if not outright falter.


Obviously, we as a society cannot leave the story on that note. So how do companies and America in general help unlock the value of veterans once they've begun working? Mission Critical and Mike Abrams offers the answer to this poorly understood area of veteran affairs. And it is everything that Four Block has been doing to combat this issue since our inception.

Advocacy: For those veterans who just need that boosting stretch opportunity, Four Block's program is designed to help veterans seek out sponsors within their networks.

Purpose: For those veterans who lack meaning and purpose in their current jobs, Four Block's program is designed to inspire veterans to think differently about jobs so that they find meaningful careers where they are serving and have a sense of purpose once more.

Stereotypes: For those veterans who feel that others make false assumptions about them, Four Block's program is designed to help veterans hone their personal stories so that their experiences and strengths come out clearer.

Storytelling: For those veterans who feel misunderstood or shy, and therefore downplay or avoid drawing attention to their service, Four Block's program is designed to challenge veterans to humbly, but confidently present their stories to the world.

Disabilities: For the third of veterans out there who have hidden injuries or disabilities, Four Block's program is designed to mentor veterans on a one-on-one basis to not only help them develop professionally, but also recover personally.

Community: And of course, for the veterans who miss that sense of community they had while in, Four Block's alumni community only continues to grow and thrive. We are not simply a 10-week career development program. Once a veteran comes through our program, they belong to the family.

Regardless of Four Block's efforts in this space, more employers and companies need to understand their veterans better. Let's not stop at recruiting veterans.

We have focused so much on getting veterans hired. Now let's unleash their potential.

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Related Topics

Veteran Jobs Career Advice