Unwrapping the true value of veterans
Transferable skills are for life, not just for Service. That’s why civilian employers should welcome veterans to their workforce, says Ahmed Al-Nahhas, head of the military team at London-based law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp. Here he explains why …
As a solicitor representing Service personnel and veterans in claims for personal injury and medical negligence, I am often humbled by the achievements of my clients. As an employer, I think that the wealth of skills that Service leavers offer should be widely recognised for the benefits that they can bring to the civilian sector.
The Armed Forces hone excellent qualities within their recruits, transferable skills that make them excellent leaders, team players and communicators, with a drive to succeed and an ability to meet deadlines.
Beyond these personal qualities, Service personnel also benefit from a high level of technical competence, having learned their trades during their Service in areas like engineering, catering, IT, administration, project management and communications, to name a few.
I think the wealth of skills that Service leavers offer should be widely recognised for the benefits that they can bring to the civilian sector
But transitioning from a military life to civvy street can be challenging. Many of my clients have undergone medical discharge because of an accident or negligence that was not their fault. If they have a valid claim, my role is to examine what their career and earnings would have tracked like had the accident not happened, and this includes looking at not only their lost military career but also the potential civilian career that might have followed.
To get a better understanding of these issues, my firm regularly works with employment experts such as DJ Fox & Associates. A number of their expert consultants have served in the military as well as in successful civilian careers. Their CEO, David Roberts, spent 30 years serving in the Army. I canvassed his views on this subject. He told me that, in his view, the Services benefited most from their values, which form the bedrock of their culture, and inspire their personnel to behave and succeed. For example, the values of the British Army are:
- loyalty – supporting team mates and the organisation
- courage – doing and saying the right thing
- discipline – particularly self-discipline, which helps to establish and maintain high personal standards and earns the respect of team mates
- respect for others – treat others as you expect to be treated
- integrity – being honest with yourself and your team mates
- selfless commitment – putting the team first.
Of course the other Services, the Royal Navy and RAF, have very similar values. Reading these as a civilian, I think they make for an ideal prospective employee.
David also told me that: ‘The skills, experience and personal attributes that Service personnel gain during their military careers can be a powerful combination and, in my experience, help them to succeed after they leave the Services and enter civilian life. From my experience working alongside military veterans since I left the Army, most continue to hold dear the values that they embraced while they were serving, albeit in most cases they are now living and working in quite different environments. I believe it is the personal qualities that are born out of the military values and standards that are particularly attractive and relevant to prospective employers, along with the skills and experience gained from a career in the military.’
I would recommend that, if you are applying for jobs in the civilian sector, you stress the values you hold dear, as this will make you a very attractive employment prospect. Some civilian employers are starting to learn the benefit of looking to the Armed Forces community as a source of potential for their workforce. My firm, for one, has now signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme. I know that veterans would enhance life within my firm and strengthen our workplace community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ahmed Al-Nahhas is head of the specialist military team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, acting exclusively for Service personnel in claims involving personal injury, clinical negligence, bullying and harassment. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org