Hire heroes: Why (& how) your small business should hire more military talent

November 15, 2018

If you were to describe your perfect employee, words that are likely to come up are leadership, responsibility, and hard work. There’s another group of individuals who are frequently described in these terms: military veterans.

Many veterans own their own small businesses, but the fact is that unemployment for veterans remains around 3.4%. One of the hardest parts of reintegrating into civilian life is often finding employment; small business owners can do their part to help heroes find their way by hiring more military talent. There are so very many reasons to hire veterans. Here are just a few.


It should come as no surprise that military veterans are usually extremely talented leaders. This is because the average age of a Marine recruit is 19; by age 20, most Marines are typically promoted to become a non-commissioned officer. Across the military, young people are frequently placed in high-stress leadership roles. By the time they return to civilian life, veterans are often able to assume leadership roles with ease. If you’re seeking to hire a manager for your small business, consider hiring a veteran; they often make great candidates.

Dedication and Reliability

Percy Jenkins, a veteran-turned-small business owner, knows that most veterans have the right temperament to make amazing employees. “One thing I love about veterans is that they are calm and disciplined; most of us don’t overreact. We don’t react emotionally,” Jenkins says. Employers who hire veterans consistently report that veterans show up on time (or early), are reliable, and perform with integrity.

Excellent Teamwork

Military service members are taught a mission-first mentality. They will work together to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task you’ve set before them. As one veteran describes, few other institutions ingrain the mindset of “mission achievement, cooperation and personal development” quite like the military. If you’re looking for someone who can step into an open role, take the responsibility seriously, and work well with others to help your business find success, look no further than a military veteran.

Ability to Learn Quickly

Veterans already have a plethora of skills that translate from their military career to a business context. Adaptability, calm under stress, organization and perseverance are some of the areas former military members are well trained in. Studies also show that veterans are able to pick up new skills quickly. The learning curve for managing a small business is a lot less steep for veterans than say, new graduates. The majority of companies in one study reported that hiring veterans has been “good for their bottom line,” pointing to leadership and dedication as two of the traits that help veterans learn quickly. Not unlike startups and entrepreneurs, veterans can recognize the need to fail fast, learn, and keep growing.

Tax Benefits

Of course, you should hire a veteran for their outstanding work ethic and personal skills. But, as an added perk, there are some tax benefits your small business might take advantage of for hiring a former military service member. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit allows for $2,400 – $5,600 to be applied for every unemployed veteran you hire. There’s also the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit which doubles the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities for to up to $9,600. Some other benefits that your business may be eligible to receive:

  • Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: this applies to veterans with service-connected disabilities who are hired within one year of being discharged. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).
  • Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: this credit provides 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities and who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.
  • Nonprofit tax-exempt organizations may be able to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit by hiring eligible veterans and receiving a credit against the employer’s share of Social Security taxes.

Do you have veterans working at your small business? Tell us what makes them stand-out employees on Clover’s Facebook and Twitter.

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