The Importance of Hiring, Supporting Military Veterans in Business

We witnessed something extraordinary this fall. As the host country to this year’s Invictus Games, Canadians had the privilege of watching our nation’s—and world’s—heroes coming together to compete in the tournament as it happened live in Toronto. While the Invictus Games are meant to be fun, they are so much more than that—as any veteran will tell you.

Just as Prince Harry himself points out, “Time and time again, competitors from around the world tell me that sports have saved them; that the Invictus Games have given them a new lease on life; and that to represent their country again with fellow comrades is something they could only have dreamt of while lying in hospital.”

One such veteran who has found solace in sport is former Team Canada 2016 Captain Bruno Guevremont. A retired Royal Canadian Navy Diver, Guevremont joined the CAF in 1999 wanting to serve his country. After being medically released from the CAF in 2014, Guevremont turned to fitness as a form of therapy. Recognizing how much fitness has helped him in his own recovery process, Guevremont felt inspired to open a CrossFit gym and personal training business so he can also help give others a new outlook on life through fitness and life coaching. Guevremont has been dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of the Veteran and Emergency services community by pouring his heart into his business.

Guevremont mentioned his transition back into civilian lifestyle wasn’t always easy. “It was hard at first. I had a hard time with the way civilians do things at the last minute possible,” he said.

War is gruelling, physically, mentally and emotionally. For years, our military men and women are trained and deployed with one job to do—to defend our country no matter what. It can be hard to transition away from this mindset when entering the business world.

That’s not to say we’re not making progress. According to the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs (#VEAC), over half of veterans have experienced a positive transition process. According to a joint study published by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), “62 percent of the CAF veterans who released from the service between 1998 and 2007 reported an easy adjustment to civilian life.”

That being said, the same study showed that 25 percent said they found the adjustment difficult.

2017 Invictus Team Canada competitor Joel Guindon had a similar experience to Guevremont, along with many other veterans, when coming back into the workforce.

“For myself, it has not been an easy process for a few reasons. First, I’m dealing with a posttraumatic injury that makes me unable to work five days a week, and it’s hard to find an employer who can accommodate my needs. On top of that, the military is very mission-driven where my goal was always ‘do what’s necessary to get the job done.’ Now, working in a unionized environment the goal is not so overt or easily quantified,” said Guindon.

We’re about to celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11th. But showing one day of support is not enough. Canadian policymakers and businesses must do more to support military veterans once they begin adjusting to civilian life.

Military men and women know what it takes to work hard, to take risks and to be self-sufficient and resilient. These are attributes that every business should embrace and celebrate in their workforce—we can all benefit from teaching each other new skills on and off the battlefield.

Here are three main ways that businesses can better support veterans as they embark on their post-service journey:

  1. View Veteran Hires as an Asset rather than a Handout: Years of military and leadership experience creates mission/goal-oriented employees, which is a big asset to companies. Soldiers are used to enduring hours of training in gruelling conditions. A seasoned veteran gains unique qualities from their time in the military that translate well to the business world—including desire, drive and determination.
  2. Foster a Culture of Understanding: Loyalty, commitment and sacrifice are key attributes of soldiers, but they must feel trust in their work environment in order to give their best. Deadlines shouldn’t be the focus—outcomes should. Providing support and understanding will allow these employees to feel a sense of belonging, which will result in them giving you their best work.
  3. Provide Mentorship and Training Programs: The battlefield of business is never going to be too complicated for someone who has served in the military, so long as there’s direction and a foundation to start from. Offering mentorship and training programs will create trust and encouragement, which instills confidence and a will to accomplish any task at hand.

At Sage, we are honored to help the men and women that serve or have served their country transition into meaningful civilian employment, build professional skills, and start their own businesses after service.

In July, Sage announced the Sage Serving Heroes Program, which honours the service and sacrifices Invictus competitors have made by supporting their burgeoning business ambitions and unlocking a brighter future for veterans after service. The program provides a holistic package of guidance, mentorship and support aimed at developing the veterans’ new businesses, as well as providing access to Sage’s suite of cloud solutions to power their vision. Additionally, with the Sage Mentoring Program, heroes in service can learn beneficial skills, gain valuable support, and find work placement from heroes in business.

Guevremont uses Sage to run his daily business operations. “Sage has been an integral part of my transition to the corporate world. I look forward to working with the Sage Serving Heroes Program to ensure more fellow Canadian Veterans’ find their own goals and motivations after service.”

War is dangerous, but everyday business shouldn’t be. With more support from the general public, business corporations and policy-makers, we can help veterans find purpose and build success in their post-military lives.

Happy Remembrance Day and a big thank you to all who have served our great country.