Yet when Mullaney returned to civilian life, he says interviews were harder to land than he expected. Employers would marvel at his resume and then say, "I don't know exactly how I would plug you in." Mullaney would have to convince them, "I wasn't a square peg in a round hole."
He says more needs to be done to teach returning servicemen and women how to convince employers that their military training translates to the office, as in, "I was responsible for X amount of equipment." Mullaney says the Army has a "reverse boot camp" that helps returning personnel prep for interviews and write a resume, and the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America has gotten companies like JC Penney to help provide business attire for vets going on job searches.
Ustream's Hunstable says he'd like to double the number of veterans he employs. "We've always tried to hire from the military," he says. "You need people that can run teams, that can lead teams." He says anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent of his sales and marketing staff is made up of veterans, but there are only a few in engineering. "Not a lot of veterans know how to code, though that is changing."
He hired Mullaney to help in operations and strategy, partly because of the veteran's connections in Washington. Mullaney worked on the national security policy staff of President Obama's 2008 campaign. When I asked Mullaney about the difference between leading a platoon in hostile territory in Afghanistan, and hanging out at an internet company in San Francisco, he laughed. "It doesn't feel that different for me." Both jobs leave him a lot of space for innovation, and both have "the dynamic of building and leading a team." On the other hand, "No one comes to work in a uniform."
Finally, Mullaney says fewer Americans than ever have any connection to the military, and that's a challenge for those returning from war. "Veterans are a sound investment," he says. "Maybe there's some adapting necessary for the time it takes to learn (a new job), but you're investing in leaders."
"This is the next greatest generation." ?