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Soldiers to Software Engineers: How One Company Transitioned Heroes Into Corporate America

It’s truly astonishing that many of our most accomplished military veterans will return home to face one more battle: That of successfully transitioning into the civilian workforce. According to the Labor Department, the current unemployment rate for veterans is 6 percent, and 650,000 are jobless.

With that in mind, I challenged my leaders in HR to launch our “Hiring Heroes” program. Designed to encourage the recruitment and hiring of U.S. military veterans, including both wounded and active-duty personnel transitioning to the civilian workforce, the program was launched in April with a stated goal of hiring 100 veterans in 12 months. We have already surpassed that target, resulting in several success stories with new hires in diverse roles, such as sales and training, professional services and software engineering.

Many people have asked me about the reason for this program—am I a veteran? Do I have sons or daughters in the service? The answer to both of these questions is “no.” I am, however, an individual who is eternally grateful for what our vets have done. I do believe they deserve an opportunity and I also believe that corporate America has a right and a responsibility to help improve our society.

“Soldiers are known for their commitment and loyalty, making them dedicated employees who are committed to the corporate cause.”

However, there’s another reason I introduced this program: I see investing in our veterans as having a great payoff. You see, I believe hiring veterans isn’t charity; it’s equal to a competitive advantage. Soldiers are known for their commitment and loyalty to their branch, their unit, and their commanding officer; this loyalty transfers with them, making them dedicated employees who are committed to the corporate cause. They are punctual, adaptable, versatile and trained to “keep calm and carry on no matter what.” And with 90% of ex-military transitioning into the commercial workforce being 35 or under, veterans represent an exciting new talent pool with high potential.

For Epicor, the practice of hiring veterans also resonates with our small to mid-sized customers—many of whom are based in the Midwest and in the distribution and manufacturing industries. As Epicor has grown substantially over the past few years to nearly a $1 billion global organization today, it’s only natural that some have wondered, is Epicor getting too big—too detached? Our commitment to hiring veterans is, in part, an answer to that; it underscores the fact that our focus on people and values is behind everything we do.

About Joe Cowan