Michael Kirchner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership Purdue University-Fort Wayne, and teaches courses in leadership, training, and human resource development. Previously, Kirchner was the first director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Military and Veterans Resource Center where he oversaw support programming for the campus’ 1,000+ student veterans. Under his leadership (2014-2016), the campus built a nationally-recognized program for student veterans, highlighted by a ‘military-college-career’ framework. He is a US Army veteran, having served in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2005, and is co-founder of UW-Milwaukee’s Student Veterans of America Chapter. Kirchner earned his Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and currently serves as the NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Region IV-East Veterans Knowledge Community representative and Steering Committee member of the Academy of Human Resource Development’s Leadership SIG. His research on military leader development, leadership development methods, and veteran career transitions has appeared in Human Resource Development Quarterly, Industrial and Commercial Training, the Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Adult Learning Journal, and Quality Approaches in Higher Education. Michael Kirchner can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah E. Minnis, PhD is an experience scholar-practitioner with more than 20 years’ experience as an administrator in higher education administration, educational program development, and organization development. Sarah has spent a decade addressing veterans’ education and employment. She is a published author and skilled educator and researcher who is dedicated to addressing veterans’ transition and career development. Through her research, she has developed a support and training model to help employment communities better understand the value of veterans. Sarah is an assistant professor in the MSHR program at Western Carolina University and consultant on veterans’ career transition as well as doctoral advisor and subject matter expert with Grand Canyon University. Sarah earned her Doctorate in Educational Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University, her master’s degree in Student Affairs at Western Kentucky University, and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Central Washington University. Sarah is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Association of Veteran Education Specialists and the Supra et Extra Award from the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community. In 2015 Sarah was the second runner up for the AHRD Esworthy Malcolm S. Knowles Dissertation of the Year Award.
Employers interested in hiring military veterans are increasingly using the “military friendly” or “veteran-friendly” labels to promote their organizations to job-seeking veterans. The terms, while inviting to veterans, lack definition and consistency across organizations, leading to ambiguity about what it means to be military or veteran friendly. This research sought to understand how the labels are being supported through corresponding initiatives and, more generally, identify commonalities across employers. A thematic analysis of programs and services used by 31 employers—recognized as being military or veteran friendly by an external agency—revealed four themes. The themes suggested an emphasis on early career transitions for veterans entering the job market. Combined, these findings offer a starting point for understanding how organizations demonstrate their friendliness toward military veterans. Employers interested in formalizing or advancing their support of veteran hires can look to the study’s findings as a reference for currently-recognized military friendly organizations. This paper offers an introduction into veteran transition issues, explores foundational descriptions of military friendly, outlines the study’s methodology and findings, and provides a series of implications. Additionally, based on the findings, the authors provide a model and working definition of military friendly organizations.