We have a host of reasons to be grateful for and respect our military veterans, but my recent conversation with Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Henry Guevara on Parent Boss Leader (PBL) reminded me once again of a few realities: veterans are talented, well-trained, and have many important skills civilians don’t initially recognize. When I see military experience on a resume, I zone in (as every hiring leader should). Henry is a perfect example of why.

Henry’s Story

After 27 years of service, Henry decided the time had come to transition into the next phase of his career. Why? Simple – his family. With two sons entering their teen years, he wanted to be present daily in their lives. “They’ve sacrificed so much for me so that I could fulfill my dream. Now it’s time for me to give back to them. I’ve spent a lot of time developing recruits into leaders of high-performing teams, but I want to invest equally in my children.”

That resonated with me. Juggling family and career is a balancing act and informs many of our decisions. I started PBL for the opportunity to speak with and learn from other working parents. As both a Navy Seal and a parent, Henry had some unique perspectives to share with me and my audience. Here are three key takeaways from our conversation.

1. Parenting and leadership both take patience

Henry made an insightful connection between being a parent and a leader – both require patience.

As kids grow up, they often have times where they resent their parents. They think they know better when, in fact, they need to be protected from themselves. “I realized I used to be that way as a kid. Then it dawned on me: someone had patience with me, and that’s when my own patience started to grow.”

Henry also saw similarities in training new recruits. They questioned processes and made mistakes, but they also trained harder, learned more, and became leaders in their own time. The patience to remain calm and focused on growth and maturity is a necessary skill for parents and leaders alike.

2. Navy Seals are more compassionate than Hollywood portrays

Seals are highly skilled and trained to defend our nation, but Henry spoke about the humanity involved with military service. Their missions bring them to vulnerable communities in which they must work closely with civilians on projects that strengthen, rebuild, and improve people’s lives.

Soldiers often find themselves playing soccer with local children and helping them with schoolwork, on and off duty. Their care for these communities is palpable. In fact, Henry’s goal in his post military career is to continue this kind of work. “Being able to help one person or one community, improving their daily lives and their long-term prospects has been very fulfilling. I want to continue that.”

3. Veterans have highly transferable and desirable skills

I asked Henry about what particular skills or experience veterans bring to a potential employer, and he had a great answer at the ready. His young platoon commanders ranged in age from 26 to 30 years old. In the corporate world, these men and women might be considered for entry- or junior-level positions due to their age, but in the military, they’ve already led teams of up to 300 people. They possess the equivalent of master’s level education in “organizational management, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, the ability to work in a complex environment, and the capacity to create trust and deep relationships.” 

Henry often found himself in charge of larger teams and complex projects involving various military branches and civilian organizations. He stated the importance of “bringing these different mindsets and experiences together to create a singular focus for the organization.”

I’m happy Henry mentioned these softer skills. Military personnel are trained to face complex situations and find solutions, regardless of service branch or rank. I know our clients are looking for people with these skills across all industries. Sadly, military veterans are an underutilized talent source. A disconnect still exists in recognizing their abilities and connecting them to a meaningful civilian job. I hope more leaders and organizations understand that even if their resume doesn’t match the job description exactly, veterans are incredibly qualified candidates.

This is why ATR works with the Honor Foundation, a career transition program for U.S. Special Operations Forces that effectively translates their elite military service to the private sector. It’s why we have a special commitment focused on veteran applicants, and we recruit military spouses. Like any underutilized resource, it can take a little bit of extra effort, but it’s worth it. Henry ended the conversation by telling me this: “In the military, we don’t worry about danger; we worry about not doing our jobs. Our biggest concern is we’re going to let our coworkers down. We’re going to let our leadership down.”

What company wouldn’t want that level of commitment and dedication from their employees? Civilians in today’s workforce have many lessons to learn from our military veterans.

If you have further questions, take a look at our Veterans Program. ATR provides the additional career counseling necessary for reacclimating to civilian working life, and we welcome your support in these efforts.


Related Articles:

Supporting Veteran Employment with The Honor Foundation

Staffing Firm ATR International Announces Military Commitment Program

Job Searching as a Veteran: The Best Practices for Transitioning Into a Civilian Career

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