Serving Those Who Have Served

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On October 30th, it was my distinct pleasure to participate in a meet-and-greet co-hosted by Draftfcb, FourBlock and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in New York City. FourBlock is an organization dedicated to leading post-9/11 veterans to employment in corporate America. WWP is all about honoring and empowering Wounded Warriors.

This event provided an informal opportunity for veterans who are seeking employment to hear about opportunities in advertising, specifically at Draftfcb. We had several representatives from HR as well as hiring managers from several departments within our agency. Speaking from my own personal experience, advertising is not usually top-of-mind when veterans, who have completed their military service, are considering employment options.

This event was important to me. As a career Army officer, I feel a strong affinity for the men and women who have served in the post-9/11 era. Many of them have experienced multiple deployments in the Global War on Terror, leading to personal hardships for themselves and their families. As they enter the workforce in numbers unprecedented since the end of World War II, they struggle to match their experience in the military to hiring opportunities. On the other hand, companies and hiring managers who appreciate the service of these veterans struggle with the same thing.

Speaking for myself, I have to admit that when I was on active duty, advertising never popped into my mind. I was fortunate enough in my last assignment in the Army to work with Army Recruiting, enabling me to connect analytical tools and techniques to marketing. That led to corporate employment when I left the Army and then to a creative professional recruiter, who eventually presented me with an opportunity in advertising with Rapp Collins—I’ve been in advertising ever since. This meet-and-greet was my personal opportunity to give back to more recent veterans.

These veterans now have to go through battle of a different kind—against stereotypes related to PTSD and assumptions that their skills and experiences are not relevant to the corporate world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re looking for someone with direct skills that are applicable to advertising, you may not find them. Most of them haven’t been trained in HTML, Photoshop or other specific tools used in an agency. But they understand teamwork, reliability, flexibility and dedication. They will be there when you need them. They are trainable and they will sacrifice personal feelings for the benefit of the team. I would argue that these skills are much harder to acquire than the others. If you think about what it takes to be a good account manager, a strategic planner or a project manager, the experiences of these veterans would most likely be directly applicable.

I am very proud to be employed by an agency willing to explore possible opportunities for these deserving men and women, and I was equally impressed with most of the veterans who attended. I’ve received several e-mails in the days after the meet-and-greet complimenting Draftfcb.

Since today is Veterans Day, I would encourage everyone not only to remember the sacrifices made by veterans past and present, but to also look for ways to help them with their transitions to post-military employment. We hope to repeat these events and eventually to hire some of these outstanding candidates.