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Veterans deserve more than just a job

It is encouraging to see so many companies committed to hiring our veterans and supporting families as their loved ones return home. Our entire country must continue to stay united behind ensuring jobs for the more than half million unemployed veterans in the U.S., but we also owe them more than just a job.

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Our veterans and military families deserve the assurance of a smooth transition back into civilian life and the aspiration of not just a full-time position, but of a fulfilling career. They deserve a job with purpose that paves a runway for advancement and for future opportunities.

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As with any business priority, this must be a holistic commitment that begins at the recruitment process, through hiring and training and well into the veteran's civilian professional tenure. Companies should consider designating specialized military recruiters who can also train existing recruiters to translate military experience. Application processes should be altered to ensure priority screening for qualified military applicants. Video interviews should be conducted to screen veterans before they return home from deployment to reduce employment gaps between military service and civilian life. Work-from-home positions and flexible training programs should be developed to cater to the transient situations of many military families. And whenever possible, employee resource groups should offer information to military Team Members and support among their peers.

Our veterans are truly the best employees you can find and they have the drive to achieve incredible results. Their many skills can't be taught in even the best corporate learning program: empathy, communication, the ability to work under pressure, self-confidence, cultural and generational awareness, team leadership, decision-making and problem resolution. Often, veterans are looking to apply these skills to new career paths after the military and seek companies that will invest in them to realize their professional aspirations.

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For example, Lieutenant Commander Jeffry McGrath served for 14 years as a Navy fighter pilot and logged more than 2,000 flight hours. Jeffry now serves the guests of the nearly 2,000 room Hilton Midtown as the Property Operations Manager overseeing the electrical shop. Using the skills that he acquired during his military service, Jeffry was able to transition into a newly engaging and satisfying role. Hospitality allows him to retain a sense of purpose serving others, and working at the largest hotel in New York City is very similar in several ways to life on an aircraft carrier.

"Operation: Opportunity" is Hilton Worldwide's commitment to hiring 10,000 veterans and their spouses by 2018 – this is the least we can do for the men and women who have sacrificed so much. It's also a mutually beneficial commitment that fills our critical need for skilled workers and opens the door to a purposeful career of serving others for these selfless patriots. Making small changes in our hiring, recruiting and employee engagement processes, Hilton Worldwide has successfully supported the transition of 3,300 veterans, but there is still more learning and work to be done.

We stand proud with the many other companies creating opportunities for our veterans and remain focused on supporting their successful transition beyond a job and into a meaningful career.

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Commentary by Matt Schuyler, the executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Hilton Worldwide. Follow Hilton on Twitter @hiltonworldwide.