2 Stereotypes About Hiring Veterans (and How to Overcome Them)

This past Monday was Veterans Day, an official U.S holiday that honors people who have served (or are currently serving) in the armed forces.

But even those honoring veterans this Veterans day have a concerning topic at hand: the rising unemployment rate of veterans. Statistics show that the unemployment rate among recent veterans remains incredibly high at about 10 percent, which is noticeably higher than non-veteran unemployment rates.

To help that number start heading back in the right direction, we’ve compiled a couple of stereotypes about hiring veterans–and how you as an employer can overcome these stereotypes, and start recruiting veterans.

Check out our list below:

Stereotype 1: Veterans have disabilities that prevent them from completing tasks

A 2012 report from the Institute of Medicine found that an estimated 13-20% of 2.6 million U.S service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 may have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to PressConnects.

While these numbers are high, they don’t necessarily make a veteran “any worse or riskier of a hire” according to Tony Zipple, president and chief executive of Seven Counties Services in Louisville.

While PTSD is a very serious problem that plagues many veterans, the National Institute of Mental Health finds that about 7.7 million (3.5% of the adult population) U.S adults suffer from PTSD, and that 20.9 (9.5% of the adult population) U.S adults suffer from mood disorders.

Other experts, such as Eric Russ, a licensed clinical psychologist at the University of Louisville, suggest that the examples we see in media are often over embellished and very rare. Russ also notes that “most veterans come back without any diagnosable mental illness,” and the outlook for those who do suffer from PTSD “is really good if they get treatment.”

In short, employers shouldn’t turn away veterans because they assume they will have PTSD.

Stereotype 2: Veterans lack civilian work experience

While this stereotype may be true, it doesn’t necessarily give you the whole picture. Employers are particularly reluctant to hire veterans because they consider them to be risky hires, often assuming that their lack of civilian work experience is a negative.

However, veterans have many desirable traits for a wide array of jobs. They often have great leadership skills and discipline, and knowledge and experience when it comes to healthcare, information technology, and operating machinery. Unfortunately, veterans have a hard time showing that their military training and experience translate well to private sector jobs due the demand for civilian certification and state licensing.

In turn, the results affect not only veterans–but employers as well. One report notes that strict laws on certification and licensing also make it “difficult for the private sector to capitalize on the resources and time spent training and educating service members.”

Fortunately, states are now thinking about lessening the restrictions and making it much easier for veterans to apply for licenses. Either way, just as you shouldn’t turn away a veteran because you assume they have a disability, you also shouldn’t turn them away because they lack civilian experience. Many employers who hire veterans find them to be loyal, reliable employees.

Stereotypes can often keep employers from making informed decisions actually based on the candidate–no matter who that candidate is. By overcoming these common stereotypes about veterans, you can broaden your talent pool, giving you more opportunities to find the best talent around.