On Becoming a Veteran Champion

Talent acquisition has never been more challenging than it is right now, and while that puts the pressure on HR, it has forced us to examine old hiring habits and even re-assess the talent pool with a fresh set of eyes. Today’s guest is Lt Col Kathy Gallowitz, Founder and CEO of Vanguard Veteran, an organization whose mission is to equip civilians to become Veteran Champions and encourage employers to adopt veteran-friendly hiring practices and workplaces. Here, she explains:

  • What it means to be a Veteran Champion;
  • Why veterans are one of the most highly touted talent pools;
  • The truth behind the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding veteran hiring; and
  • How your organization can become more veteran-friendly!

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A Vanguard Veteran

  • Lt Col Gallowitz grew up with a father who was a Navy pilot and communications engineer. She was inspired to give back to her country and do her part.
  • After 9/11, the Ohio National Guard was deployed as an operating force, and that had a real impact on the jobs that those members had to leave behind. 
    • Lt. Col. Gallowitz built a statewide outreach office to educate and engage civilians to do their part, as well.
    • She developed Vanguard Veteran to work with employers to help them hire and recruit veteran talent and build military ministries.


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Becoming a Veteran Champion

  • A Veteran Champion is someone who never served in the military but builds mutually beneficial partnerships with veterans that promote the quality of life of a workforce or community.
    • Hiring veterans strengthens the civilian workforce with the skills and attributes that military members bring.
    • Being a good neighbor, building a military ministry in congregations, taking the time to have coffee with a veteran, or simply saying “thank you” is all part of the Veteran Champion movement, and it’s really a win-win for both veterans and the civilian community. 

Veteran Candidates

  • In 2011, veteran unemployment was very high, so the U.S. government put efforts into finding gainful and meaningful employment for this segment of the population. Since then, companies have been putting resources and effort into recruiting veterans and hiring veterans. 
  • Veterans are one of the most highly touted talent pools and employers need to take care of veterans, and to understand the strong attributes that veterans can bring to the workplace. 
  • Employers now working their way through the pandemic can really lean on veterans to help with their return to normal.
  • According to this article from SHRM, findings from The Center for New American Security also indicate that 68% of employers reported that veterans perform "better than" or "much better than" their civilian peers.
    • Other research found that 60-70% of HR professionals do not have specific messaging to recruit veterans or developing training to understand military culture.
  • Research shows that hiring veterans brings a whole host of benefits to a workplace, and can even be cost-savings, in the long run.
    • The top attribute that employers report veterans having is leadership skills. They are very mission-focused, disciplined, and loyal. Veterans know how to get the job done, and understand the risks that might come with certain tasks.
    • Veterans also know how to listen and work as a team within the workplace. 
    • Veterans know how to live by policies, but also understand the value and importance of remaining adaptable, flexible, and resilient.
    • The military population is also one of the most diverse populations, in terms of ethnicity, background, and cognition.
  • For all these reasons, it is in an employers’ best interest to continue to help veterans succeed and to create greater opportunities to recruit veterans.

Military Misconceptions

  • There are some stigmas and stereotypes about hiring veterans that can harm and do a real disservice to our veteran job seekers.
    • Media sensationalism promotes the idea that veterans are either sick with PTSD or lead in an aggressive manner.
    • The truth is, leadership in the military is no different than leadership outside the military.
    • And while it is true that 20% of veterans have PTSD, it is a miscoonception that those afflicted with PTSD are violent.
      • Those veterans with PTSD manage their triggers and go on to live full lives.
      • It can, of course, be helpful for recruiters to adapt and be prepared for veterans with PTSD during the interview process. Being prepared means asking the right questions and having the support of veteran team members and employees.

Becoming Veteran-Friendly

  • To bring more veteran talent into the workforce, workplaces need to become more veteran-friendly, 
  • One of the most effective and simplest things that an employer can do is to connect veterans with one another.
    • Current employees can offer support during the onboarding process for newer employees, and keep an open dialogue going with upper management. 
    • Feedback is welcome and encouraged in the military, and providing veteran employees with a mentor, and someone who can provide feedback, can help keep veteran employees at a company. 
  • HR professionals can support veterans by engaging with current veterans, and understanding how to connect with veterans throughout the employment process, as well as building an inclusive climate within the company. 

Sourcing and Interviewing Military Talent

  • Employers who want to prioritize hiring veterans should know how to translate military skills into useful and marketable business skills.
    • One tool that employers can use is called O Net, and helps build a crosswalk for candidates going from military to civilian work or civilian to military work. This tool creates job categories based on a candidate's existing skills to find the right job that enhances their abilities, and discovers what training they might need. 
    • It’s important to understand that military skills are highly transferable. It is important to train for aptitude, and training to help make veteran’s skills applicable to other careers.
    • These skill tools also identify questions that might not come up in a traditional interview, and provide recruiters with a better idea of what hiring a veteran means.
  • Talent acquisition teams need to be proactive in recruiting veterans and develop relationships with them.
    • Sometimes, this means being creative and getting involved with the veteran community to prove the team as a Veteran Champion. This might involve showing up at deployment ceremonies or welcome home events because that’s where people will come from.
    • Research shows that being proactive in veteran acquisition is a strong retention tactic, because companies are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
  • Many state and federal agencies make hiring veterans a priority, and hiring teams can connect with those agencies, as well as non-profits to recruit veterans.
  • When it comes to interviewing a candidate with military experience, it can be really beneficial to have another veteran conduct the interview to form that bond. 
    • The person conducting the interview might be able to ask the question in a different way that helps the candidate grab onto the question, and create a dialogue that is familiar and comfortable. 
    • Creating a rapport with someone else with military experience is important because people in the military value hierarchy, and a recruiter or an interviewer is seen as someone with authority, so that sets a precedence for how the candidate interacts with the recruiter. 
  • After interviewing a veteran candidate, a veteran who works at the company can follow up with the candidate to clear up any outstanding questions.

Vanguard Veteran, LLC

  • Vanguard Veteran works with companies to make them ready to bring more veterans into their workplace, and have a positive and meaningful experience. 
  • Lt Col Gallowitz calls herself a “Veteran Hiring Concierge”, who can help you source veteran talent, as well as assist with veteran interviews and onboarding.
  • She is committed to helping organizations move towards becoming veteran-ready!

Beyond “Thank You for Your Service”

  • After retiring in 2016, Lt Col Gallowitz realized that there is a huge gap in our society when it comes to cultivating consistent, civilian Veteran Champions. 
    • Civilian Veteran Champions can do so much without a lot of effort, and their support is crucial - ust the smallest amount of encouragement and appreciation means so much!
  • She decided to write Beyond “Thank You For Your Service”: The Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians to talk about the simple, practical ways that citizens can do more from their circle of influence or from their neighborhood to improve quality of life, workforce, and community by becoming a Veteran Champion.

Kathy Gallowitz Background

  • Masters Degree, Political Science, Concentration in Public Administration from Ohio University
  • Masters Degree, Community Health Nursing, Minor in Teaching from UT Health San Antonio
  • Served as a Hospital, Clinic and Flight Nurse for the United States Air Force
  • Worked as Practice Administrator/Director of Marketing for Buckeye Sports and Orthopedic Specialists
  • She was the President, Board Chair, and Committee Chairs/Director of Marketing for Pickerington Area Chamber
  • She returned to military service as a civilian as the Community Affairs Manager/Public Affair Officer for the Air National Guard; and as the Director of Community Outreach for the Ohio National Guard
  • She currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Vanguard Veteran LLC
  • She is the author of Beyond Thank You For Your Service: The Veteran Champion Handbook for Civilians



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