How are our veterans -- individuals who have made extraordinary sacrifice and who have received some of the most sophisticated training and leadership experience that exists in the world -- not returning home to the job security and stability for which we’ve led them to believe they’re fighting all along? And how is it that businesses are struggling to find good talent when it appears to be abundant and of the highest caliber?
While these statistics are disheartening, it would be naïve to believe that the conundrum could be fixed by simply plugging all the hiring holes with veterans. Businesses require specific talent, and veterans often want the kind of stability that many startups can't offer. Former military-service women and men, though, note that at least part of the problem is due to employer misconception –- i.e., when transitioning back into the private sector, some companies communicate that their experiences were "too military".
The value of good people on a team is unquestioned. While it's always questionable to make a global statement about a group of individuals, it's safe to state that, generally, veterans bring to the table the following characteristics:
The USGBC Green Veterans program was founded by the South Florida Chapter in 2013 by a disabled combat Veteran and a long-standing USGBC (civilian) volunteer. The Chapter’s Green Veterans committee quickly grew to almost a dozen volunteers who were both new to the USGBC community and had little prior awareness of green building or sustainability.
Local programs are diverse and productive. Amongst other topics and activities, the Green Veterans have discussed the realities of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the role of therapeutic gardens and building design on stress reduction and PTSD treatment. They have collaborated with local nonprofits to collect furniture for Veterans, and also pulled together a team to repair a Veteran's home. They have gathered socially to grow our ranks and discuss our mission.
More recently, the Green Veterans Group have led conversations with other local Veterans organizations to create a Sustainability Boot Camp. The USGBC South Florida Chapter and local educational institutions are partnering to hold training classes for the LEED Green Associate exam, along with HERS, Resnet and BPI training. All exam fees are covered for Veterans by the GI Bill. From there, the Green Veterans are partnering with non-profits like Rebuilding Together and Habitat for Humanity to provide on-the-job experience for those recently trained Vets. Once complete with the training and OJT, Green Veterans then is partnering with United Way’s Mission United initiative and the Green Collar Vets organization to provide permanent jobs and bring the Veterans into the green building workforce.
The Green Veterans program has expanded into other USGBC Chapters across the USA. Program and start-up tools have been created to make the program replicable across the network of Chapters. In addition, the Green Veterans leadership are committed to the program’s success in each Chapter and are available assist Chapters' formative Green Veterans efforts.