VA Working to Help Employers Translate Military Skills to Private Sector, Official Says

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By Caryn Freeman

June 23 --Both the Department of Veterans Affairs and employers can do a better job helping veterans re-enter the workforce, Curtis L. Coy, deputy under secretary for economic opportunity at the VA, said June 23 at the Society for Human Resources Management's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

Coy said employers should be more cognizant of how military skills translate into day-to-day civilian job skills.

HR must work with the VA to dispel preconceptions about the military many have and create a better understanding of the workplace potential that military service brings, Coy said. “Understanding the human capital potential of veteran talent is a relatively quick and simple way for organizations to achieve their goals,” he said.

To help employers understand and connect with the veteran population and translate military job skills to fit private sector vacancies, the VA has built a collaboration with the Department of Defense, Department of Labor and internet companies including Google and LinkedIn, Coy said. “This is the fastest way for employers to identify veteran talent,” he said.

The website, in addition to being the only unified online portal verified by the VA that links employers with honorably discharged veterans, is outfitted with a military job code translator application that helps employers translate military skills into private sector skills.

“It can be hard for employers to connect military skills to those relevant job skills that are required in today's labor market,” Coy said.

Veterans also have unique training opportunities available to them, he said. Employers should note that veterans have a “portfolio of benefits and services” they can use, at no cost to employers, to build or enhance their career skills, Coy said. These benefits often make veterans “more competitive” than traditional candidates as they transition from military to civilian careers, he said. “Pretty much any sort of training program veterans can find is available under the post 9/11 GI bill,” Coy said. That includes traditional higher education training as well as more tailored apprenticeship programs and other vocational training, he said.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at