We see the term “military friendly” all over, and it seems like every other company claims to support veterans these days. But what exactly does this word mean? Many of the businesses that advertise this badge of honor offer little more than military discounts or free meals, while others are making a meaningful impact in the military community.
What Does Military Friendly Mean?
“Military friendly” is a term trademarked by the organization Military Friendly®, which incentivizes companies in the private sector to adopt programs that help veterans. The organization will designate companies “military friendly” if they consistently succeed in helping veterans transition from the military to a fulfilled job as a civilian.
According to the Military Friendly® website, the definition of “military friendly” is “the standard that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.”
To fully understand this definition, let’s break it into segments:
- The Standard: This standard refers to the minimum an organization must do to be designated military friendly. Companies that do more can receive awards, and these rewards give them an incentive to go to further lengths to help veterans.
- The Measures: Organizations are assessed in a formulaic, objective way. There is a council that advises on criteria, weighting and methodology, and the assessment results are even audited by a third party.
- An Organization: “Organization” is defined very broadly because it is believed that every organization in the country should be given an incentive to support military veterans.
- Commitment: This refers to establishing policy and is the first of three steps an organization takes to create a military friendly program.
- Effort: This is the second step and refers to an organization investing people, time and resources for their program.
- Success: The third and final step refers to the successful results an organization has achieved with their program.
- Sustainable: “Sustainable” means that the benefits the organization is providing to the veteran community are long-lasting.
- Meaningful: “Meaningful” refers to benefits that affect the community as a whole. This is not like other charitable organizations, which only affect a disadvantaged few. The term also suggests that the benefit is an opportunity, not an entitlement.
- Benefit: This means that military veterans have either “back stage passes” or “front of line privileges.”
- The Military Community: This term has nothing to do with the Department of Defense, but rather refers to those who are currently on active duty, guard, reserve, or are veterans or military spouses.
How Is an Organization Designated as Military Friendly?
To determine whether an organization can be called military friendly, a survey is conducted that evaluates data from three sources. They are called the “3 Ps”:
- Public data sources: This is publicly available data about the company. These sources are federal agencies such as the OFCCP of the Department of Labor and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Proprietary data: This is data gathered from a Military Friendly® survey.
- Personal data: This is personal opinion data gathered from a short survey taken by military veterans who have worked at the organization.
This annual survey assessment is available for free, but completing it can take several hours, so it safe to say that only organizations serious about the survey will take it.
The proprietary data comes from a survey and the personal data is provided by veterans. There is also an advisory council, consisting of experts in the subject matter, that provides guidance on the development of the test.
Once the data is gathered, it is then processed by an algorithm. There are no humans involved in the scoring process. The results are then audited by Ernst & Young and published.
Below are the categories featured in the survey:
- Career Opportunity and Advancement: This category focuses on what a company does to make sure its military employees make a smooth transition to employment as a civilian. This is measured in part by how well it retains its military employees and helps them to advance in the workplace.
- Culture and Commitment: This section focuses on how well the company stays committed to its military friendly goals. It also examines the employees, facilities and training programs that the company has in place to realize these goals.
- Hiring and Onboarding: This category deals with the selection of new employees and familiarizing them with the company’s products and services.
- Military Onboarding and Compliance: This section assesses the company’s policies benefitting military employees and whether these policies comply with federal programs.
- Military Employee Support and Retention: This category deals with a variety of programs designed to help military employees, such as employee resource groups and mentoring newly hired employees.
- Recruiting and Sourcing: This section evaluates programs and policies designed to attract and source new military applicants.
How to Tell if a Company Is Truly Military Friendly
As mentioned earlier, many companies claim to be military friendly, but we must look deeper and decide whether they are deserving of this designation. If all the company does is offer a 10 percent discount on drinks, they are not making much of an effort to help military veterans. If they have hired and integrated tens of thousands of veterans, on the other hand, they are truly a military friendly business.
If you want to know whether an organization is serious about supporting veterans, look for some of these things:
- A Veterans Affinity Group: These groups help veterans and military families transition smoothly, become a part of the company and find professional success.
- They Are Quiet and Professional: Many “military friendly” organizations don’t crave the spotlight and their military friendly programs will never be acknowledged or celebrated. Instead, they are quietly integrating and helping veterans. Military spouses can be seen in high positions, and veterans hired four months ago as seasonal employees are now head of the department.
- You Know Veterans Who Work There: This one is pretty simple. Do you have friends or acquaintances who have a job there? Military friendly companies should have some veterans you can speak with.
- They Are Committed to a Cause: If a company feels passionate about something, they will take action to make a difference. Regardless of the issue, whether it’s veteran homelessness or unemployment, companies that genuinely care will invest money and time into solving the problem.
How an Organization Can Be More Military Friendly
Hiring military veterans is not only a noble gesture, but it also makes sense from a business perspective. Veterans tend to be natural leaders and possess loyalty and integrity — all great qualities for the workplace. Some companies, however, find it difficult to integrate someone who has had little to no experience working a civilian job. Businesses designated as military friendly usually receive the honor because they have:
- Hired many veterans, guards, reservists and their spouses.
- Created strong initiatives to hire military veterans.
- Promoted affinity groups for veterans in their company.
- Given veterans leadership positions in the company.
Once you’ve brought a veteran into your company, that’s just the beginning. To make your company genuinely military friendly, think about adopting these practices:
1. Create an Open Dialogue
Veterans who have taken on civilian jobs often find themselves working with employees with no interest with or connection to military life, which can make them feel isolated. The civilian employees are often curious about how to work with their veteran colleague, and may even feel intimidated. Managers should start the conversation about the new veteran employee by getting employees to ask questions about the veteran’s background. Creating this dialogue will create a better work environment for both parties.
2. Encourage Collaboration
Veterans, because of their work in the military, tend to make great team players and collaborators. Because of this different work background, veterans can bring a new perspective to the workplace. Managers should encourage them to share their point of view on the company’s programs and efforts.
3. Encourage Them to Join an Affinity Group
If your company has a group dedicated to the needs of veterans — which it should — then encourage your veteran employee to take advantage of them. They can talk with people who share their background and also receive advice from other veterans who work at the company.
4. Help Them Grow
If you’re trying to make your company military friendly, then you should have a well-defined plan for how your veteran employees can grow professionally. Let your veteran employees know at every stage what they must do to advance in their careers at your company. Keep in mind that life is more predictable in the military than in the civilian world, so some veteran employees may feel overwhelmed without a clearly defined gameplan.
5. Don’t Forget Military Families
If a company acknowledges the importance of the veteran’s family and the efforts they make for their military family member, this gesture will be highly appreciated and will likely receive much praise from the veteran employee. Creating programs that include the spouse in events is a great way to show this respect.
Military Friendly Employers
If you’re a veteran looking for work, keep in mind that the following fields are likely to be military friendly:
- Security and Law Enforcement: As military personnel are trained to defend their country against foreign invaders, they are well-versed, at the very least, in security, force protection and anti-terrorism — skills that will be very useful in security operations and law enforcement.
- Intelligence and Intelligence Training Organizations: Military personnel are also experienced in intelligence, so this is another field where they are sought.
- Communications and Utilities: Veterans are also often recruited to this field for their experience with communications, utilities and cybersecurity.
- Oil and Gas: Although this industry is in decline, there are still available jobs out there — and they often go to veterans.
- Transportation: People who can drive trucks and operate heavy equipment are in high demand, and veterans often have these skills.
- Leadership and Management: Although what you did in the military might be highly specialized, such as a logistics manager, weapons specialist or veterinarian, it is also likely that you acquired some leadership and management skills that are desired by a wide variety of companies.
Here are some examples of military veterans landing jobs very different from their military specialty:
- A navy submariner was hired as a bottling plant manager at Coca-Cola.
- An army comptroller was hired to work in the accounting department at Frito Lay.
- A military officer was hired to work in logistics at Amazon.
Military Friendly Schools
Schools can also be designated as military friendly. Schools with this designation strive to help veterans make the transition from military life to school and prepare them for fulfilling careers as civilians.
The eligibility of a school is based on certain types of outcome data such as graduation and job placement. As a supplement to this data, responses from colleges that take the survey are also taken into account. These responses cover six areas that are considered to be highly important to helping veterans feel comfortable and succeed at college. These areas are:
- Admissions and Orientation
- Culture and Commitment
- Military Student Support and Retention
- Academic Policies and Compliance
- Financial Aid and Loan Repayment
- Graduation and Career Outcomes
Here are some basic characteristics of military friendly schools:
- They Are Members of the SOC Consortium: If they are members of this organization, they abide by the SOC Criteria and Principles of Good Practice. The SOC Consortium is an association that ensures that members of the armed forces are provided with satisfactory learning opportunities.
- They Review Military Training for College Credit: A military friendly school should give you some course credit for your military work.
- They Give Extra Credit for Extra-Institutional Classes: These schools should award credit for completing testing programs like DSST and CLEP.
- They Are Responsive and Flexible: Military friendly schools should be familiar with the active duty lifestyle and have policies that recognize this.
- They Are Committed to Servicemembers and Veterans: The school should have personnel dedicated to helping servicemembers and veterans. There should also be training programs for faculty that explains special considerations for veterans. It should cover their deployments, schedules and other factors that may impact their learning.
Come Learn With Us
If you’re a military student, we invite you and your family to take our classes on our campuses or online. Courses at Vista College are accelerated — meaning you can graduate in less time — and our classes are offered during the evenings to better accommodate your schedule. Once you graduate, our college also offers free, lifetime employment support if you’re ever searching for a job.
We are proud that a large percentage of our student body is affiliated with the military and always welcome more to join us. Our admissions representatives are familiar with the life of servicemembers and understand their needs. In 2017, Vista College was designated a Military Friendly School for the fifth year in a row. Learn more about our enrollment process, or contact us if you have any questions.