Hiring veterans lifts a company

Much is said and written these days about hiring returning veterans. They’ve served us, and their countrymen in a time of global terror abroad and in peacetime in the homeland.

They should get a good look for employment.

Or additional training at a local college.

It’s worth noting that our Sheridan College has been named a “military friendly school” for the second year in a row by “GI Jobs” magazine. And that the school has a full-time Veteran Services Office, directed by Brett Burtis, helping veterans transition from service to training to employment. Sheridan College’s president, Dr. Paul Young, is a retired Navy officer with duty at the Pentagon.

Nobody asked, but I’m fortunate to be batting 1.000 with hiring veterans, either in management or as reporter/writers. For years while publishing community daily newspapers in North Carolina, I volunteered to be a judge for military newspaper contests. As a judge, you had the opportunity to read the best reporting and writing, or its best design and presentation, from each base or post. Some of these soldiers and sailors and airmen made the service media a career, but some wanted to go into the private sector. I contacted them, kept in touch with and offered employment.

One was a retired Air Force master sergeant. Bill Hess and I hooked up in 1983 and today, at age 75, he’s still a working journalist, covering the news, features and assorted goings-on at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., for the Sierra Vista Herald. It’s an Army post that dates back to the Indian Wars and Buffalo Soldiers. Today, it’s a high-tech post and home of Army intelligence and the Signal Corps. As a reporter, Bill knew how to decipher the often-confusing military mumbo jumbo and was a wiz at developing sources. We worked together on two newspapers.

Others have worked in management. For a time, a mailroom of mine in Arizona was in constant disarray and dysfunction. Frustrated to the nth degree, I one day placed a classified ad for a retired NCO — the tougher, the better. In walked Walt Buechner. That he had a gruff, gravelly voice certainly helped; that he had 25-plus years in the military, living all over the world, often driving heavy equipment for the Corps of Engineers barking orders and getting the job done right were other advantages. The shirkers and cowards were soon dispatched from the mailroom. Commercial print customers were suddenly happier; delivery times were met. The party atmosphere ended; he had it “standing tall” quickly. You could eat off the floor, so the says goes. He kept it that way, as if it were his, for many years before retiring a second time. And at Christmas, Walt, given his large carriage and rosy cheeks, made the ideal Santa for the newspaper staff’s children.

The Sheridan Press’ marketing director, Phil Ashley, is retired from the Air Force as a senior master sergeant after 21 years of service and more than 25 decorations. He had duty stations all over the world in England, Florence, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany and of course, Mississippi. He was a munitions specialist and the Air Force enabled him to earn college degrees, one in management from the University of Maryland. In getting to know Phil — we’ve worked together 12 years in all in both circulation and adverting — I’ve come to understand how he’s quite proud of his years in uniform and rightly so.

When you can, hire a vet. They’ve got the training, the pride, the experience.

 

 

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