opinion

Hiring veterans is a real way to honor their service

Physician practices should list employment opportunities at their offices on the new Veterans Job Bank.

Posted Nov. 28, 2011.

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For too many military veterans, the fight doesn't end when they return home. After months or years of serving their country -- away from loved ones and, in many cases, in harm's way -- they come back only to struggle with finding their next jobs.

These are tough economic times for everyone, but especially for the nation's former members of the military. Federal officials report that veterans are experiencing unemployment rates that are several percentage points higher than the general population. More than 850,000 veterans are unemployed, and more than 1 million more people are expected to leave the military in the next five years as the U.S. draws down its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unemployment situation for these servicemen must change, and employers must help take the lead. Physician practices can play an important role in this effort.

The health care sector is one of the few areas of the national economy that is experiencing job growth. Practices that are looking to hire more staff should post their job listings on the Veterans Job Bank, a new resource from the White House for those leaving the military and looking for their next employment.

By visiting the National Resource Directory, physician practices and other health care employers can learn how to advertise directly to veterans. This free government website already lists more than a half-million job postings from employers who are looking to hire people who have served. The American Medical Association, which is a partner in the hiring effort, has committed to posting AMA jobs on the Veterans Job Bank and is encouraging physicians to follow that example www. nationalresourcedirectory.gov.

Veterans can be excellent job candidates for anyone who is looking for dedicated, trained workers. They already have shown that they are extremely committed to their jobs, have been taught important skills that are easily transferrable to a civilian setting, and have a range of experience that one cannot receive anywhere else.

As an added incentive for physicians, many veterans have received top-notch clinical training and other knowledge that would be perfect for a practice setting. A corpsman who treated war wounded on the ground in combat zones, for instance, might bring an extra dimension of judgment or confidence under pressure to a career as a nurse or physician assistant. An officer who commanded men and women in units overseas might be just the type of practice manager who can run an efficient operation. And an enlisted person who has served as an administrative staffer in the Armed Forces might be a great fit at a practice as a medical records staffer or a receptionist.

Committing to hiring veterans through the job bank also is a meaningful way that a physician practice or another facility can give something back to the members of the military who have given the nation so much. What better way to honor their sacrifices than to give them a chance to continue providing for their families, gaining more employment experience and pursuing the next stages in their careers? Many veterans don't expect much for their service except the chance to show people back home that they can bring the same level of dedication to their civilian jobs as they did to the military. They should be given that opportunity.

As the nation reflects on the most recent Veterans Day and thinks about those servicemen who can't be with their loved ones this holiday season, physician practices can go a big step further. Through the Veterans Job Bank, physicians, administrators and medical staff can show former military members that they are glad to see them return home in a way that goes well beyond simply saying, "Thank you for your service."

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