When it comes to veteran employment…focus on purpose
When I started The RECON Network almost five years ago, I had no desire to run my own business. Then, I was a publisher at a local business magazine; I was quite happy with that life, and only really wandered into the world of veteran employment accidentally.
Two things happened: my grandfather, an Iwo Jima-era WWII vet, passed—his last months clouded by the shadows of that time in that world across the ocean. At the same time, a reader came to us at the magazine and mentioned we should look into what the military drawdown (under then-President Obama) meant for our state’s economy.
So into this world I went, diving head first into research to find out if there even was a story to tell.
Boy, was there a story to tell.
In almost four months of research, here are some things I discovered:
The link between individual purpose and meaning can have long-term and widespread effects on everything from job retention to mental and physical health.
o Health: A strong sense of purpose leads to longer lives and stronger cognitive ability. Studies show that people living without purpose show a higher risk of diseases like cancer, because the body stays in a constant state of inflammation.
o Education: Studies show students w purpose guiding them learn better and are able to persist longer through harder topics.
o Career: Around 44 percent of veterans will leave their first post-military job placement within one year of hire, usually due to bad fit, mis-placement or low engagement. In many cases, that timeline is shortened, with only a few months of work (usually after training is complete) before that shift occurs.
• Many major challenges that the veteran community face—PTSD, depression and suicide, as examples—can be, in many cases, directly attributed or linked back to a lack of purpose.
• The veteran community is vital to our workforce and our economy, and is, in many cases the “missing link” when it comes to workforce gap in jobs of the future.
• Often, our companies—human resources, staffing professionals, and even CEOs—don’t know the benefit of hiring veterans, and if they do, often times don’t know how to go about creating a truly military-friendly corporate culture. Or worse, they don’t know how to find and recruit these men and women into stable, well-paying jobs around the country.
While there are many organizations in place to help our veterans and military families during the transition process (shout out to Upstate Warrior Solution for all their hard work in the Upstate), most are focused on the end result: housing, job placement, VA care. This is a good thing—these are very foundational and tactical things that must be addressed for the good of our military community. However, with that tactical lens, very few are focused on purpose. Even fewer understand the need for it.
Out of all this, through a long, involved and often boring story, The RECON Network was born to address that missing piece of the larger conversation. These days, we provide our purpose-focused curriculum online, free to veterans and military spouses, in the hope that we can help them answer their own “WHY” and “WHAT” before they head into the job search. We also partner with organizations on a local level across the U.S. to provide our curriculum to a wider audience and connect them with their local resources.
So, I encourage us all to look at employment from a larger perspective. At RECON, we believe that it’s not just about finding a job. It’s also about finding a purpose.
About the Author
Jordana Megonigal was an Upstate-based editor and publisher for 15 years, until she put it all aside to become CEO of The RECON Network. Her passion is helping connect veterans and military families to the resources they need to thrive in their next stage of life.