Military veterans are strong workforce options

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Bill Rubin is the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation executive director

Older Americans will likely recall when Nov. 11 and Veterans Day were known as Armistice Day, so-named to mark the armistice treaty ending World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month back in1918 (wow, almost 100 years ago).

WWI veterans returned to their hometowns and found opportunity. Some returned to the farm. Some helped populate growing cities and were part of the era when industrialization ruled. Some furthered their education and had long careers in education, business or government.

This scene was repeated in the mid-1940s when WWII veterans returned. Along came Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Gulf War I & II, Afghanistan, Iraq, and ISIS-ISIL, etc.; and the scenes of returning veterans were repeated, all with differing sequels.

Veterans in St. Croix County reflect between 4.6 and 6.3 percent of the total population, maybe 5,400 individuals, according to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Across Wisconsin's sprawling 7th Congressional District that includes St. Croix, the veteran population is estimated at around 58,000. Military service is not gender specific. About 8 percent of Wisconsin's veterans are women, approaching 29,000 strong.

As the workforce continues to shrink, employers would be wise to consider veterans as their first choice. Although the largest segment of the veteran population is 65-years or older, many are within their prime wage-earning years. Veterans have vast skill sets, including problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, integrity, and understanding of policies and procedures.

There are plenty of resources to connect veterans with business and industry and beyond, including eligibility for benefits, medical care, vocational rehab, and pensions. The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and County Veterans Service Office are among these go-to agencies.

Veterans owning their own business may wish to promote that fact by obtaining the Veterans Owned Business Certification from state's Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Nov. 11, remember the living; honor the dead; thank a proud veteran. Hire them.