Most companies canvassed in a study published Monday say it's good business to hire veterans because of their leadership and teamwork skills, but some negative perceptions about veterans persist among business leaders.
Company executives say they sometimes struggle to understand the skills an infantryman could bring to a civilian job, for example. And some cite a fear that many veterans might suffer from post-traumatic stress, according to the study released by the Center for a New American Security, a non-partisan group that studies defense policies.
The study involved in-depth interviews with 87 business leaders representing 69 companies.
It offered both good and bad news for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, of whom an estimated 263,000 were jobless in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Their unemployment rate was 12.7%, slightly higher than for the same month of 2011. Among 18- to 24-year-old veterans, nearly one in four were out of work in May, a higher rate than for their civilian peers.
Persistent high unemployment among these new combat veterans has led to a raft of federal initiatives — tax incentives for employers and retraining programs and job preparation courses for veterans — to help integrate them into the workforce.
The Center for a New American Security study found that nearly 30% of companies hire veterans because it's the "right thing to do." But the majority are driven by what is best for their bottom line, the study says.
Fully 70% said veterans had leadership skills, purpose, direction and motivation that made them attractive job-seekers. About half the executives said they were impressed with veterans' character — trustworthiness, dependability, integrity and maturity.
On the downside, company executives say they have a hard time translating what they see in someone's military résumé into skills a company can use.
The study recommends that the Pentagon and Labor Department do a better job helping new veterans explain the skills they acquired in the military. Those include abilities to plan and execute tasks under stress and respond to unforeseen problems, and being safety-minded.
John Garcia, a deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, says the VA launched a program in January to help veterans recast their résumés to highlight acquired skills.
Between 50% and 60% of employers say there are negative stereotypes about veterans, including concerns about post-traumatic stress