Advice for Being a Better Veteran Employer, From Veterans

For a long time, veteran hiring, retention, and how to better serve those who have served our country has been a major issue of discussion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for all veterans decreased to 4.4% in 2021. While such indicators point in a positive direction, there are still unemployed veterans looking for an opportunity to work and apply the experience and skills they developed and honed while in the military.

American Water is committed to serving our military veterans in honor of all they have sacrificed to provide the safety and security of our country that citizens enjoy. We continuously evolve and improve the ways we support veterans in our community, including those who are part of our team. Part of that mission is listening to the advice they have to give. In recognition of Veterans Day, we asked some of our veteran employees what advice they would give to businesses that want to improve hiring and employment tactics for veterans.  

Understand the value of military experience…

“When you hire a veteran or military spouse, in return, you are going to get a disciplined, hardworking, respectable employee, committed and dedicated to accomplishing the vision of your company. You also gain the benefit of a collaborative employee.”

Michael Chavous
Field Service Representative, American Water
E4 USS Forrestal CV59 (Ret.), U.S. Navy.

…and accept the quirks that come with it.

“If the veteran had any kind of success in the military, they’ll figure out how to have a similar level of success for a civilian company. If a company can accept some of the necessary quirks that developed during service, they will all benefit in the end.

Paul Scott
Treatment Plant Operator, American Water
E-5 (Ret.), U.S. Army

Look beyond the resume.

“There are many skills and competencies that service members gained during their time in the military that may not be typically encompassed in a paper resume. Many of those skills can easily be discovered during a conversation/interview with the potential employee. For example, throughout my twenty years of active duty, there were many intangible leadership traits that I found invaluable in my life to this day: integrity, initiative, dependability, judgment and teamwork. I have tried to embody those traits every day for the 14 years I have been with American Water.”

Barry Pawelek
Senior Manager, External Communications, American Water
Master Sergeant (Ret.), U.S. Marines

Embrace patience and understanding.

“In the hiring process and when bringing them on to the company, have patience with our veterans. Take the time to consider that the work structure and pace are different than what they were accustomed to during service.”

Phillip D. Landreth
Manager, Physical Security, American Water
Master Sergeant (Ret.), U.S. Air Force

Place value on adaptability and team-oriented success.  

“Throughout my time in the United States Air Force, a skill I learned that has helped me reach and maintain a certain level of success would be the ability to be a team player. The military puts you in situations where you have no choice but to work with people from different walks of life, and all sides of the country. This diversity forces you to find a common ground, whilst working towards a common goal, with individuals who are from different backgrounds, and more times than not have different beliefs than you. This adaptability has allowed me to be a chameleon in the civilian world, with the ability to be open to other lines of thinking.”

Ryan McKoy
Wastewater Collections Specialist, American Water
E-3 (Ret.), U.S. Air Force

Honor the gift of a dedicated employee.

“In military training, one expression is used quite often: INTESTINAL FORTITUDE. It means the courage and determination necessary to do something difficult or unpleasant. It comes from believing in yourself and your abilities, and allows you to take a chance to try something that others might shy away from. To this day. I still use this expression and mindset to encourage myself when I’m facing a challenging task.”

Kristina E. McGee
Director of Engineering, American Water
Lieutenant Commander (Ret.), U.S. Navy

American Water celebrates and honors all the veterans in our community for their service and sacrifices and understands how these service-minded employees can make impactful contributions in the workplace. As we work toward a better tomorrow, we continue to look for ways to better serve our veterans across the nation.