In 2021, 18.5 million veterans were living in the U.S., accounting for roughly seven percent of the adult civilian population. Nearly five million of these veterans served after 9/11 – a subset of younger veterans who largely believe their service gave them strong training for jobs outside of the military.
Our own research analyst Hadley Sinkowitz agrees with that.
One of the things that attracted us to Hadley was her intelligence experience in the Army Reserves, where she collaborates with foreign personnel to extract, analyze, and communicate insights for a wide range of stakeholders. Among other things, Hadley thinks that employers sometimes struggle to figure out how military skills map to civilian roles, but if they take the time, they’ll see benefits most veterans bring, including strong leadership, attention to quality, effective communication skills, and an exemplary work ethic.
Which veterans struggle to find work, and which thrive?
We valued Hadley’s intelligence experience, as would other companies. That’s backed up by a fairly recent U.S. Census Bureau study, which found that Army specialists with military intelligence, drone, cyberspace, and telecom experience earn the most after leaving service – primarily at industrial, security, and weapons development firms. According to that same survey, combat veterans usually have lower earnings and employment rates after leaving service, and they are more likely to start their careers in lower-paying retail, manufacturing, and support services jobs.
Millions of working veterans, but very few corporate disclosures.
Despite this large swath of veterans in the workplace, in 2014, only six S&P 500 companies disclosed how many were working for them. Today, 96 companies disclose that statistic, and even fewer (36) disclose whether one of their board members is a veteran. According to our research:
- Veterans make up 10% or more of the workforce at 25 companies.
- Veterans play an outsized role in the industrials sector, which frequently values their military experience. This group is led by Lockheed Martin (21%), Leidos Holdings (20%), General Dynamics (20%), Union Pacific (19%), and Northrup Grumman (17.4%).
- Veterans are few and far between at several financial and technology companies, including S&P Global (1.2%), NVIDIA (1.4%), M&T Bank (1.4%), and BNY Mellon (1.8%).
- Surprisingly, Johnson & Johnson, despite the substantial military service of its chairman, as well as that of board member Nadja Y. West, does not disclose any veteran statistics. That said J&J is one of Diversity Inc.’s top companies for veterans, and the company provides numerous recruiting, training, and advancement programs specifically geared toward veterans. J&J also ranks tenth on the 2021 Military Times Best for Vets list, up from #80 in 2020.