Veteran Voices in the Workplace - Recognizing Veteran Leadership in the Private Sector

BMR Staff

As published by US Department of Veterans Affairs

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and while many provide varied services in different industries, many also share one similar view: they want to hire Veterans. This is what I know, but as the founder of Bridge My Return (BMR), a free, military hiring platform, I asked several of our employer partners why they hire Veterans. And then I talked to Veterans themselves about what this means to them.

Here’s what I found out from these Veteran Voices in the Workplace.

As an employer, why does hiring Veterans matter to you?

  • “The thing my mind keeps focusing on is the skills we are looking for in a solid new hire. So many of them are most commonly met with a Veteran status. Intangibles like honor and integrity are vital as we are doing work in people’s homes or businesses. Customer service and a willingness to help others are on the top of the list. Compassion and empathy… and I could go on and on.” Chris Kushmaul, disabled Veteran, franchise owner, Restoration 1
  • “Veterans are highly capable of learning and working under pressure, which is all too common during the peak season for our business. Plus, Veterans have worked next to individuals of all races, genders, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and physical capabilities throughout their military careers. They usually bring that same sensitivity to the civilian workplace.” Teresa Fiduccia, manager of Recruitment and Retention at American Residential Services (ARS).
  • “NewDay USA is a leading VA mortgage company. We see the practicality of hiring Veterans. Nobody knows the unique challenges Veterans face to buying a home better than Veterans themselves.” Rear Admiral Tom Lynch, executive chairman, NewDay USA.
  • “Former military leaders bring leadership, focus, loyalty and self-discipline to their practice, and these are the most common characteristics of successful financial representatives. They are passionate about helping people achieve financial security with integrity and character, and that’s at the core of what we do.” Billye Survis, Northwestern Mutual.
  • Similar to Northwestern Mutual Financial, technology start-up Origin8 is building its business with a sturdy Veteran foundation. “Our advocate role requires skills such as social perceptiveness, building rapport, service orientation, discipline, enthusiasm and active learning,” says co-founder Mike Corey, a Vietnam Veteran. “We’re not looking for industry experience; rather, we seek employees who possess these traits and we see them in Veterans. We’re excited to add hundreds of Veterans to our team – working virtually in an environment of community and security.”
  • Blackstone – and the portfolio of 200 companies in which they have invested – take pride in the 90,000+ Veterans, spouses and caregivers they’ve hired to date. “Our ongoing commitment to hiring, developing and retaining these individuals is rooted in our firm’s appreciation of their service to our country and in the adaptability, ingenuity, determination and resilience they demonstrate on a daily basis in the private sector, from front-line operational roles to C-level leadership positions.” Jason Santamaria, managing director Blackstone and Marine Corps Veteran.

As a Veteran, what does it mean to join an organization with an honest commitment to hiring and retaining military talent?

  • “After a career serving in the infantry, I struggled with finding the right fit after I transitioned to civilian life. I didn’t know it then, but now realize I was searching for that familiar feeling of camaraderie and pride. Organizations led by or supported by actual Veterans understand that and allow it to strengthen their business.” Gabe Arreola, operations manager at Restoration 1.
  • “When I see our efforts and actions – both large and small – those feelings of inclusion and belonging I had in the Army come back to life. Like others, I am encouraged to offer my thoughts and it’s so uplifting when I see them put in motion.” Joshua Will, division recruiter at ARS.
  • “We say ‘Ship, Shipmate, Self.’ At the core, it means we put our customers and teammates ahead of ourselves.” Alexander Lee Hess, NewDay USA.
  • “I could get behind a company that has the same morals, convictions, duty and honor that I do, and that meant a lot to me.” Pete Martinez, financial representative, Northwestern Mutual.
  • “The Veteran community here at Blackstone was supportive throughout the entire recruiting process and was a major factor in my decision to join the team. Since joining, Blackstone has also supported my non-profit mobile app,, which helps connect Veterans with companies like Blackstone who understand the value of our Veteran community.” Kevin Kennedy, SVP in Cybersecurity, Blackstone.

Bridge My Return is a series of stories

We believe we are a series of stories. The interconnected lives of Veterans, military-ready employers and Veteran support organizations comprise and reflect a collaborative adventure. We’re your bridge to career, community and character. We invite you to join Bridge My Return in this adventure. To get started, click here.


Contact us:

Also feel free to check out this video that summarizes our mission.

(1) Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Northwestern Mutual financial representatives are independent contractors whose income is based solely on production.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.

Bob Hogan is the founder of Bridge My Return (BMR).

Share this post: