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Best Practices for Attracting + Retaining Veterans in the Workplace

Veteran Employees

December 27, 2021

The Greater Des Moines Partnership welcomed guest speakers to discuss veterans in the workplace in an effort to show support for this untapped group of workers in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The webinar featured best practices from Amanda Banks, past chair of The Partnership’s Inclusion Council, and Tim Perkins, commissioner for the Office of Native Americans with the Iowa Department of Human Rights and member of The Partnership’s Inclusion Council.

Perkins offered up best practices for hiring and retaining active military and veteran employees, including learning about military culture and educating the rest of your employees, finding resources that can help support veteran employees and more. Banks said that hiring managers should consider pairing veterans with a mentor or buddy and check in often, among other things. She highlighted ways to attract veterans during the hiring process, such as adding elements to your business web page that show a commitment to employing veterans.

Along with Banks and Perkins, a panel shared tips and opportunities related to veteran and military spouse workers, including the following speakers:

  • Julia Rose, veteran, Department of Veterans Affairs, LGBQT+ diversity coordinator
  • April Keating – spouse of a veteran, entrepreneur
  • Shane Sawyer – veterans, IowaWORKS, disabled veteran outreach program specialist
  • Katie Eppers, Athene, employer best practices at Athene
  • Moderated by Jathan Chicoine, Home Base Iowa program manager for state and strategic initiatives

Sawyer discussed resources for veterans that assist them in making the transition from the military to regular employment, including:

Recruiting + Hiring Veterans

Keating said it’s important to consider that when recruiting veterans, a lot of them come with a family, and the choice on where to end up is often more heavily weighed by the spouse. She said in many cases, you can hire both the veteran and the spouse because both might be looking for permanent employment. The military is a tightknit community with strong friendships. Military friends can mentor and share transition advice.

When considering marketing to potential veteran employees, consider that veterans aren’t always men and spouses aren’t always women. Rose said there is a lot of diversity of thought and backgrounds in individuals within the military. Eppers agreed, saying even the normal benefits package might not be something of interest from for veterans and may need some modifications. Those retiring from service may not need certain items within the package, like healthcare, so this is an opportunity to ask what other benefits might help a veteran want to join your workforce.

The group also discussed how to meet challenges to helping veterans and their spouses find meaningful employment. Keating highlighted the fact that many spouses may be underemployed and have gaps in their resumes. Keep in mind that many spouses will add to their education because of opportunities available to them and volunteer to utilize their skills while they are not employed. Understanding the reason for gaps in a resume and applying a human touch to that review is beneficial to hiring spouse talent. Sawyer said military spouse work history gaps do not mean they aren’t able to commit to something worthwhile or that they are inactive.

Other topics discussed ranged from thoughts on ideas for employer best practices to steps businesses can take to target veterans during the hiring process.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.