Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) theater veteran unemployment has climbed to more than 10% based on the average from 18 to 24 years of age. This is compared to the overall U.S. unemployment rate in January 2014 of 6.7%.  For those service personnel wounded during OIF and OEF (referred to as “Wounded Warriors”), the unemployment rates prove to be much higher at more than 20%.

Due to increased public-awareness messaging and broad national concern for what many feel is totally unacceptable, several American corporations have taken notice of this high unemployment rate within the veteran community.  They are opting to help make a change by focusing more on their abilities to provide jobs, as General Tommy Franks said, “They were there for us when we needed them – now it’s time for us to be there for them”.

American employers have committed to successfully hire and retain these veterans but have failed due to a myriad of challenges. Much to their credit, they have engaged their talent acquisition teams and included this edict in their companies’ Diversity Programs but, in many cases, have seen marginal results.  Beyond corporate integrity, many firms are interested in hiring transitioning military personnel, including those companies seeking Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) coverage within their plans for Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance (VEVRAA) compliance.

So why is veteran unemployment still stubbornly high? Here are some of the reasons for the challenges they may be experiencing:

  • Where is the money?

    Lack of Funding and Veteran-specific Placement Capabilities:  A good portion of these well-meaning firms have some finite funds within diversity budgets but not within recruiting budgets. Therefore, they struggle to dedicate the appropriate resources needed to build an internal function for this very specialized hiring.

  • How do I understand this population when their experience is different from what I normally see?

    Lack of Military Expertise in Human Resources and Acculturation Processes:  Companies have the interest but often lack the expertise needed to establish recruitment teams who speak the military language, to create a permanent veteran-friendly environment that will not only allow successful hiring of former military personnel but will ensure cultivate retention.  Absent a military program, the standard options are either to attend a military-oriented job fair in the hope of finding employee candidates or to pay placement fees to military hiring firms who claim special access to the transitioning Veteran.

  • This is just another niche market – have one of the recruiters try it out.

    Some companies endeavor to build an internal function on a shoe-string, typically assigning one recruiter, which is fine until demand (often proposal-driven) out strips capability, introducing the same challenges. A common error is to assign the responsibility to the least-busy recruiter on the team – someone usually with no military recruiting experience. With no connection to the military community or knowledge of skill-mapping from military jobs to corporate (civilian) positions, these recruiters at a minimum spend far longer than necessary to get up to speed and may fail completely.

  • Why should we treat them any differently than any other hire?

    For many OEF/OIF veterans, the corporate environment is a completely foreign and daunting place to work. In addition to having the right talent acquisition resources and structure to hire veterans, it is essential for corporations to establish veteran communities and mentoring programs. These programs provide newly-hired veterans an opportunity to learn from and lean on other veterans working for the company. Preparing the corporation and its environment for wounded warriors (e.g. physically challenged or coping with post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) is even more critical and challenging.


How Orchard Talent Can Help

@Orchard Military Turnkey Solution (MTS) provides your organization with clear, finite, developmental steps that are performed in concert with your personnel and leadership to establish a comprehensive, streamlined, and sustainable Veteran hiring and retention program.  @Orchard has demonstrated experience supporting small, medium, and large companies who seek to support the Veteran community with a truly effective veteran hiring initiative that is also good for business.

@Orchard provides a turnkey solution that is tailored to your company’s particular veteran initiative, cost effective, scalable, and citable in recruiting plans for the OFCCP as a legitimate “good faith effort” to attract all manner of veterans. Our consultative model is not based on expensive placement fees.  You can predictably manage your budget leveraging @Orchard fixed-fee model with quarterly billing. Our MTS is easy to implement with initial results in 90 to 120 days depending on the modular services provided.




It is very important to understand the business drivers, requirements, and objectives when implementing a solution of this nature. @Orchard will work closely with you to evaluate the maturity of the current state of the workforce and environment for veterans, as well as the amount of awareness within the organization at all levels. We will also help determine the desire within the company for a veteran-oriented program to help Human Resources (HR) and diversity leaders to garner the requisite organizational support.

We will analyze the following:

  • Has executive leadership been briefed on the new regulations, their impact on hiring, and their impact on the business itself?
  • What is the maturity of your current military hiring and retention program?
  • Do you know how many veterans are in your workforce?
  • How many are wounded veterans?
  • Do you know their positions in the company?
  • Do you track the number of veterans and wounded veterans in your workforce?
  • Do you have a military-friendly environment, including communities or diversity initiatives?
  • Is there a forum for your veteran community to communicate their specific interests and issues?
  • Are there Veteran mentors within the firm who can assist in building a great Veteran-oriented solution?
  • Do you have any type of initiative in place to hire more veterans? If so what is the budget, what organization (or individual) is responsible for that budget, and what tools and resources are dedicated?
  • What are your current compliance plans to meet the regulatory environment, and have they been independently audited?

@Orchard will review the results of this analysis with key stakeholders and provide insights with respect to the impact of changing (or not changing) the future of the company as a Federal Contractor. Then, we will tailor a solution to augment any gaps based on the analysis results, the availability of funding, and the priorities of the business.


This step is more tactical in nature with a deeper focus on the actual hiring requirements, as well as how those requirements look from a military recruitment perspective. Not all positions align with military experience but you may be surprised how easily many of them can with minimal adjustments.

To complete the assessment process, @Orchard will:

  • Provide a current assessment of known Military Talent within your organization and reverse engineer their previous Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), mapping the competency level to their existing Private Sector/Commercial Occupation. Since most military occupations map to several variations of civilian occupations, the analytics will allow your corporate stakeholders to see a pattern, if it exists, within the company and how a specific MOS will align to the company’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). For example, if 85% of the company’s existing veterans were enlisted members of the Military and are now serving in corporate leadership roles, then the assessment will reveal the Military occupations they held, which helps to effectively cross-match positions when implementing a successful Veteran hiring initiative.
  • Identify an internal military hiring champion team, including hiring managers, recruiters, HR/EEO/Benefits personnel, and an executive sponsor.
  • Assess all job requisitions that crossover into military occupations.
  • Identify targeted groups within the company with the most Military relevancy.
  • Determine areas within the client organization experiencing significant growth or turnover to identify a pilot department for first-stage implementation; engage the leadership of the pilot area to ensure support.
  • Perform a gap analysis on the attrition rates within the selected group and review data to determine endemic factors.
  • Train and implement @Orchard unique approach to talent acquisition in the pilot department, gathering lessons learned to apply corporate-wide.

By far the most significant hurdle to building an effective and productive military hiring program is to understand the military workforce and how their skills crosswalk. It is also vital to recognize and mitigate entrenched perceptions and biases that exist within the civilian population, including hiring managers and executives.  This is not something to ignore; it can and should be positively addressed.

@Orchard will evaluate the educational needs of the company and deliver a solution that typically includes:

  • How to legitimately apply military codes and real-world services experience to civilian occupations, including position descriptions
  • Understanding the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) locator
  • Understanding the importance of Veteran Designators outlined in VEVRAA and their differences
  • How to use Veteran-oriented interviewing techniques for HR professionals and hiring managers – “Do’s and Don’ts of interviewing Veterans”
  • Understanding and addressing reasonable accommodations
  • Incentives and benefits provided for employers seeking to employ veterans, (tax breaks, paid interns, subsidized training, etc.)

@Orchard draws upon a level of experience in the development and management of Veteran and Wounded Warrior programs to implement a simple-to-use, outsourced military recruiting solution. The key elements of the solution are:

  • Adapt current requirements to focus on the work to be done and incorporate the MOS crosswalk
  • Use unique military network and NGO partnerships to source and pre-qualify prospective veteran candidates
  • Screen candidates thoroughly to ensure both suitability and motivation to engage with the opportunity; ensure they are pre-closed on terms
  • Provide a detailed submission profile for each candidate including resume, screening documents, and a detailed assessment of both why the individual is a valid candidate and where development gaps may need to be plugged, including (in some cases) guidance on free or federally/state subsidized professional development options
  • Provide ongoing candidate management and assistance to hiring managers unfamiliar with military candidates
  • Build and manage a Military Talent Pipeline for future requirements based on pre- determined profiles
  • Build candidate Management flow for VEVRAA reporting

Effective onboarding of veterans recently transitioned from service, as opposed to Veterans already in the workforce or those in the Guard, is very important for sustained success. While the onboarding process itself can and should be integrated within existing standard onboarding processes, there are certain, distinct elements that can be layered into the process to assist the military hire. By taking these steps, the process of civilian life assimilation is enhanced as is the probability for new hire retention.

At @Orchard we leverage our experience to guide your onboarding process in the following ways:

  • Establish guidelines for orientation, including briefing the new military hire on what to expect during the onboarding process
  • Establish first 30-day guideline for assimilation that includes preparation for managers and regular check-in from the military program team or HR
  • Establish a reasonable accommodations solution if necessary (@Orchard can provide you with resources to help navigate this critical process!)
  • Be aware of plans for scheduled training whether provided in-house or through NGO/Government agencies to bring the new hire up-to-speed with all necessary skills, and ensure schedules are managed to allow for training
  • Establish a reoccurring communication between hired Veterans, recruiters, HR professionals, and the hiring manager to ensure Veterans have questions answered in a timely manner, all documentation is complete and correct, new (Veteran) hires have a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities, and expectations when starting work, etc.
  • Create an effective feedback loop and assist with setting up mentoring, “buddy”, and/or Employee Resource Groups (also known as Affinity Groups) for your growing veteran community.

@Orchard is committed to providing our clients with a sustainable, scalable, and valuable solution that gets real hiring results and ensures the recruited Military personnel stay and thrive. It is also critical that this program provides you with the necessary structure and robust reporting to enhance your company’s compliance footprint. As part of the @Orchard approach, we have strategically placed continued quality assurance initiatives throughout the solution to meet these objectives.

As part of a continuous, quality-focused solution, @Orchard will:

  • Deliver continuous recruiting support, including Veteran-oriented pre-screening and mapping to open requisitions or pipeline profile positions
  • Monitor the candidate pipeline and recruiting activity against any new statement of work (SOW) for selected business
  • Provide a weekly status report listing all activity for business and compliance purposes
  • Help incorporate the services within disability and veteran hiring plans to be submitted to OFCCP for Section 503 compliance “4.0 Continuation and measurement”
  • Provide business with any new updates to OFFCCP VEVRAA Section 503 regulatory changes
  • Assist you in gaining NGO/Agency recognition for your military partnership program

Simply put, it is our goal at Orchard Talent to provide our clients with an easy to integrate, end-to-end military hiring solution that will help meet regulatory compliance requirements and new laws, enhance our clients’ workforce with quality Veteran recruits, and heighten our clients’ reputations. The solutions we offer can be tailored to meet the scale and maturity of the company’s HR Diversity initiatives for veterans and can be used in compliance reporting.

@Orchard MTS allows any firm the opportunity to benefit from a great talent pool that only needs expertise to tap – without having to invest in building costly programs that are ineffective, paying for hit or miss job fairs, or paying high placement fees – none of which enhance the compliance footprint.

We provide this solution for several large and small companies, so our clients benefit from our established talent network.  Likely, we will already have a talent pool waiting for you!

Why Our Military Turnkey Solutions will produce real results.

@Orchard has more than 30 years of combined experience in delivering successful talent management solutions to both large and emerging customers. Having this expansive network within the business and Veteran community gives Orchard Talent instant capability in this new market.

Past performance includes awards received for programs including: the GI Jobs Top 50, Military Times “Best for Vets”, and by-name requests from state agencies to provide career coaching to veterans.

Some of our experience includes:

  • Building a transitioning military program from scratch that is focused primarily on Junior Military Officers (JMOs) for a global consulting firm. The program grew from non-existent to deliver approximately 150 JMO hires per year.
  • Taking a Wounded Warrior program from concept to implementation for a 7,000-employee Federal contractor with a focus on the larger enlisted population. Peer companies had taken months and, in some cases, more than a year to build their wounded veteran programs to a capability to bring in their first hire.  Orchard Talent’s SMEs built the solution and had the first Veteran candidates in process in a matter of weeks.  Within a few months, nine Wounded Warriors of OIF/OEF were on board with the company performing well in roles such as Systems Support/Help Desk, Cyber Security, and Systems Engineering. As a direct result of the initiative, the company improved VEVRAA compliance and gained a business development edge for proposals they were bidding with Federal agencies.
  • Developing an initiative to hire veterans, mostly enlisted/NCO, for a leading regional retail bank to be placed in roles ranging from Customer Support/Help Desk/Call Center to internal technology positions and customer facing branch positions up to Branch Manager.


Your Next Steps

@Orchard stands ready to help you establish and manage a budget-friendly Military Turnkey Solution tailored to your unique corporate requirements and objectives. We welcome the opportunity to provide you with a statement of work with a realistic cost and resource model, and we are flexible and adaptable in our approach to ensure what we deliver will help you achieve maximum return on investment.

“We’ve got your 6!”

For more information and to schedule a meeting, please contact Odell McLeod, Principal and Program Manager – Military Turnkey Program

Tel: 202-595-1248 ext 219


Locations in Chicago, IL, Washington, D.C. Metro and Austin, TX.



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