Including Veterans in your DEI Hiring and Retention Initiatives 

Nov 15, 2022

By Warner Santiago, Senior Director of DEI, MassBio

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, there are more than 300,000 veterans just in the state of Massachusetts. When it comes to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, campaigns for hiring veterans are an absolute must-have. As companies focus on industry experience as a key hiring criterion, this segment has a risk of being left out. As a result, unemployment or underemployment among veterans continues to be a challenge. For Veterans Day (or Armistice Day/Remembrance Day, depending on where you live), we are turning the spotlight on veteran inclusion in the workplace and the best ways to hire veterans.  

The representation of veterans in the workplace has slightly improved over the last few years. That said, certain areas require immediate addressing, supported by businesses across the world. Here are a few metrics that illustrate why you need to find the best way to hire veterans.  

  • The “jobless rate” for all veterans in the U.S. remained steady at 3.5% in 2021. 

So, what does this tell us about veterans’ inclusion in the workplace and hiring methods towards this purpose? First, when it comes to the life sciences industry, we must find better ways to hire veterans so that they are not compelled to relocate to find a fulfilling job.  Next, it is vital to extend the definition of “the perfect candidate.” To adopt best practices for hiring veterans, organizations will prioritize potential, cross-industry skill sets, and personality traits over industry experience or educational qualifications. 

Looking for the Best Way to Hire and Retain Veterans? Consider These 5 Ideas: 

1. Rework your job posts with an eye on soft skills 

Recent studies confirm that soft skills are more important than ever before when building a growth-focused company. Teamwork, leadership, and communication skills are some of the abilities you should be considering when sourcing talent. Veterans, with a long career in tackling challenging scenarios and showcasing exemplary behavior, are ideal for these roles. 

Your company should be fostering an inclusive culture that welcomes veterans and recognizes the value they bring to the workplace and mentioning this in job posts will make a veteran immediately feel comfortable in applying for the job. Creating this type of culture starts at the top of a company and takes having an understanding of the valuable traits and transferable skills veterans have to offer. One of the best ways to hire veterans is to highlight that they belong in your organization – and the first step towards making this happen is with an inclusive job post.  

2. Offer career development programs for veterans 

Career development is a top priority for any modern employee, and this holds for veterans as well. Over half of the unemployed veteran population is in the 25–54 years age bracket – a vital period for career planning, progression, and continuous upskilling. By building on the qualities they’ve acquired during their time in the military, you can develop a workforce that’s up to date on the most recent, in-demand skills. Further, they will be more likely to stay with your organization as they perceive a direct value-add to their professional lives after having left the military. That’s why dedicated career development programs that are featured in your employer brand is an essential best practice for hiring veterans. Once resources are dedicated to military recruitment, companies should also ensure that when the veteran talent is brought on, there are programs in place to promote career development. 

3. Involve veteran members of your organization in the onboarding process  

The trend is clear: individuals with prior experience in the military and personal familiarity with veteran challenges are more likely to help other veterans transition and find meaningful roles.  

Creating an onboarding plan that includes veterans already employed at your company can make a significant difference. Remember, this needs to comprise a diverse group of stakeholders, including future team members of the recruit, their line manager, employees with similar experiences, as well as business leaders. This is one of the best ways to make sure veterans feel included and adequately supported in this new curve of their professional trajectory.  

In addition to these tips, we also recommend involving the community in creating awareness about veteran employment and hiring and creating a veterans’ network with veteran employment advocates so that your company is top of mind when veterans start to transition to the workforce. 

4. Account for and reach out to veterans with disabilities 

A lot of veterans may have experienced some physical or mental trauma from their time serving. While some come out unscathed, others may need more attention, and their inclusion in the workforce is as important as those without a disability. Recruiters on the frontlines should be actively looking to help and advise applicants with disabilities. Also, provide disability awareness training regularly through disability outreach partners. 

5. Customize the benefits offerings for your veteran employee base 

Veterans often are not given options when it comes to choosing health care providers and other benefits. The decision is made for them. They might not know what options are available to start planning for retirement or how to sign up for medical and dental benefits. Additionally, the change to civilian life can also be challenging for their spouses and children. Help them understand what benefits are available to their families. Helping veterans smoothly transition is a great investment in your organization’s future leadership 

As we celebrate Veterans Day, this is a great time to rewire your recruitment approach and incorporate proven best practices for hiring veterans. Partnering with military hiring experts may be one of the best ways to get veteran hiring right. This will ensure that you start the new year on a DEI friendly foot, ready to embrace inclusion, engagement, and future-focused productivity at your workplace.  


BasuMallick, Chiradeep. Veterans Day Special: Does Your Diversity Initiative Include Veterans?. Spiceworks. (2021) 

Brooks, Lakisha. How to Include Veterans in your DEI Plan. HR Exchange Network. (2021)  

Pereira, Lean. Why Include Veterans Day in Your Diversity (DEI) Celebrations. Emtrain. (2021) 

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