Veterans in Supply Chain: Value & Opportunities [PODCAST]

Written by Expeditors
33 minute read

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Lenora Turner and Ted Lucas from Expeditors' Opportunity Knocks program discuss the value of veterans and how companies can create opportunities.


A mostly accurate transcript of this podcast is provided to assist comprehension and promote understanding. The transcript almost inevitably contains errors, mistakes, and (as our favorite 5-year-old nephew Kai might say, if we had a 5-year-old nephew named Kai) other boo-boos resulting from, e.g., words or phrases that are inaudible; the use of non-English-words; misspellings; transcription/speech-to-text service limitations; and/or other sources or kinds of inaccuracy. Thus, the transcript is not to be considered or relied upon as, an official record. Indeed, provided “as is,” the transcript neither creates nor includes express, implied, and/or statutory warranties of any kind, and Expeditors International of Washington, Inc. and its subsidiaries (“Expeditors”) disclaim all warranties. Expeditors retains all rights to the transcript; your use is personal, ethical, compliant, and non-commercial in nature only. Expeditors shall have no (and does not accept any) liability for transcript error(s), mistakes, or Kai boo-boos; lost profits or losses; or direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special, exemplary, or punitive damages in connection with or related to any use of the transcript. Any opinion directly or indirectly expressed in the transcript does not necessarily reflect the views or position of Expeditors.

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Chris Parker: Hello, everyone, and welcome to The Expeditors Podcast, where we look at the logistics and freight forwarding industry through the lens of a global logistics provider. I'm your host, Chris Parker, and today we're shining a spotlight on the incredible contributions of our veterans to the civilian workforce, just in time for Veterans Day.

We'll explore the opportunities they bring to the industry and showcase their unique skills and experiences. To talk more about today's topic is Director of Opportunity Knocks, Lenora Turner, and the lead of the Opportunity Knocks Veterans Program, Ted Lucas. Lenora, Ted, welcome to the podcast.

Lenora Turner: Thank you, Chris.

Ted Lucas: Hey Chris, thank you for having me today.

Chris Parker: Well, it is a pleasure to have the both of you here. Before we get started, I mentioned Opportunity Knocks. Some people here may not know what that is. Lenora, let's start with you. What is Opportunity Knocks? And then, Ted, after Lenora, I want to hear what the Opportunity Knocks Veterans Program is and what both of you do for this program.

Lenora Turner: Yeah. Thank you, Chris, again. Thank you for this focus. I love that we're doing this. Opportunity Knocks is our internal company name for a couple of focuses we have to make sure we're helping provide opportunity both to veterans and to youth and young people. I can tell you that it was really our veterans who started the veteran focus back in 2015. It came under the umbrella because it just made sense. And I have learned so much from our veterans because they were the ones, again, to just start with a smart focus of recruiting veterans, which is intelligent for any company to be doing.

Ted Lucas: Well, Chris, once again, I'm Ted, and I am a veteran. So thank you for talking about this topic near such a great holiday as Veterans Day.

Chris Parker: Yeah. Absolutely.

Ted Lucas: So I have the opportunity to lead a team of dedicated individuals who are supporting veterans both at our company and outside our company, and our Opportunity Knocks Veterans Program is built on three tenets. The first is recruit and hire veterans, and we do that by marketing our company to transitioning service members. We promote our value proposition for hiring veterans. Why is it a great thing to hire a veteran? And then we support our hiring managers through their recruiting process.

The second is help our veterans as they transition from military life to civilian life, and we do this by offering direction and support to the transitioning service members. We foster leadership and career development opportunities for them, and then we just provide networking support for them as they're going through their process. And then the last pillar of our program is we recognize service to our nation, and this is done at our local branch level, and they do that by engaging and supporting the veteran community there. We also create opportunities to acknowledge our service members' contribution to our great nation.

Chris Parker: Yeah. And given the program's eight-year history now, what kind of growth has it seen?

Ted Lucas: Well, that's a great question, and it goes in ebbs and flows. Currently, we're sort of in a low tide cycle, right? And over the past years, we've recruited a lot of veterans who have come to the company and done great things in our various products.

Lenora Turner: You'll find that it's intelligent to have actual veterans. You're pretty much driving your program, partnering and doing as much of the efforts as possible. And sometimes it's a piece of their job. I have learned so much from Ted and the other members, because Ted probably won't get the chance to say too much about his background, but we got to have him share a bit. He's got more than a 30-year history in the Navy. He worked at the Pentagon shortly before working for us. To be honest, Ted's made me a better person. I wasn't a bad person before we started.

Ted Lucas: No, you weren't.

Lenora Turner: Thankfully. But I can say I'm just so impressed with the qualities he brings. His humility has always amazed me. The transition isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially when you've had such an amazing career, and there's so many different types of roles they may have had. But again, I've learned a ton from his experience. I think he's learned from mine and ours. So, again, having veterans be a piece of your own veteran outreach, if you're not doing it already, I'm telling you, you need to be.

Chris Parker: Mm-hmm.

Ted Lucas: And that's a great point, Lenora. I had a very wonderful military career of 30-plus years. My family packed up and moved every time Uncle Sam gave me a new set of orders. So families serve, and the companies who not only engage the veteran but engage with the veteran's family are very successful in recruiting and hiring veterans.

Lenora Turner: And we have actually increased our focus over the last several years to veteran spouses. Again, thanks to Ted and our other veterans helping us be able to become more aware of that. And because we have offices in so many places, it does help that we can possibly transition if somebody does move. So things to keep in mind. But again, you're going to learn a lot from your veterans on how to do an intelligent outreach to that community when you're looking to hire talent.

Ted Lucas: Yeah. I think, Chris, just to throw a number out there-

Chris Parker: Yeah, please.

Ted Lucas: ... the number of veterans transitioning every year range from 200K to 250K. So if you're not looking at this talent pool, I think you're missing out, because there's lots of benefits from hiring a veteran, companies that are missing out on this large pool of qualified candidates who bring a real diverse perspective to their workforce, plus their unique skill set. So why hire veterans? While each veteran has a different experience and skill set, there are many skills and attributes that veterans share that makes hiring them a wise business decision.

They're accustomed to completing rigorous training programs. Right? So many are fast learners and follow instructions and are adaptable. Veterans are typically confident in their ability to learn new skills, so they're comfortable in taking on new challenges. And one is the leadership that veterans bring to the table. I mean, think about it. A lot of veterans became leaders in their early 20s, ahead of many of their peers in corporate America.

Chris Parker: Right.

Ted Lucas: So many have been responsible for managing and training direct reports. So we've learned to delegate and give clear instructions and provide actionable feedback. And also, veterans have trained to lead by example. So what a great role model for a company to hire. And then, of course, we have a wide variety of operational knowledge. Veterans and service members coming from officer and more senior enlisted ranks have strong operational skills.

We can manage the operational process from the planning stages to reviewing and reporting on performance with customers. We have done many an after-action review. So one of the benefits of hiring a veteran is that we are able to use our research, preparedness, implementation, and analytical skills to spearhead company projects.

Chris Parker: And given when I think of military service or just the military in general, it is a lot of logistics needed in order to execute successfully. There's that know-how that may not be the direct analog to how we do things in the civilian world or in the commercial sense, but knowing how to execute quickly and precisely seems like very innate for veterans.

Lenora Turner: I can tell you that when I've talked with some of our veterans that we have hired and learned about their experience, sometimes I've literally sat there and thought, "You've done what?" In the sense of how much they've accomplished, how fast they had to make leaps and decisions and take on broader teams and different things, and I went, "Wow," to make the shift.

And they're starting, in some cases, a little more entry-level, some cases mid-level or high level, depending on their backgrounds. But I think it's really easy to make assumptions. If somebody says, "Hey, I need somebody who's good at tech," I mean, what the heck do you actually mean? The tech industry is huge. Right? So if you want to say hiring a veteran, you may have in your mind a very, very narrow perspective of what they have accomplished or what their roles were and the job skills they have.

So it's really good not to make assumptions, because if you actually take interest and ask questions, you're going to be very impressed. And the teamwork, obviously, is another incredible ability they've got. I don't know a company who doesn't want someone who's a team player.

Chris Parker: And I guess with that kind of skill set, I wanted to ask, how can veterans use their skills and experiences to solve real-world problems in the supply chain industry or any industry that they're seeking to start a career in?

Ted Lucas: Well, let me first say, Lenora, what you just said hit the nail on the head. Every service has a specific logistics field. The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guardsmen, Space Guardians, they all have logistics field, but we're taught from an operational perspective. I have to worry about, "Okay. I'm in the field. I'm working hard. I have to know my supply chain so I can get that replacement part that I might need out on the front line." So everyone has a little bit of logistics background, and we know how to operationalize a process.

I'll just give one example. The Army teaches a seven-step problem-solving process that we veterans can use to help our teams make strategic decisions. Right? So it walks people through the entire process from information gathering and determining what the problem is to deciding what the potential solutions are, and then acting and making that final decision. So what company wouldn't want someone who's already trained in looking at a problem from the complete process? I think that's what a large company would want.

Chris Parker: And do you think the stakes are higher with those kinds of operations versus a startup working on some kind of app that helps me find the right sweater for my dog versus-

Lenora Turner: Maybe, Chris.

Chris Parker: ... supplies and equipment, versus moving supplies and equipment to supply bases and installations around the world? I feel like there's just higher stakes and, therefore, a need to do things with a lot higher integrity and intention and precision.

Ted Lucas: Well, I would think along those lines, we might turn that into the word goal-oriented. Right?

Chris Parker: Mm-hmm.

Ted Lucas: And veterans are accustomed to being responsible for achieving their goals and objectives. Right? We got to complete the mission. Right? So we're going to help our subordinates or the people who work with us to do the same. And so, we're committed to following those policies and procedures to help our units. So we're going to do the same thing for whatever company hires us. And the process of setting goals and developing strategies to accomplish them is integral to being effective in any job, whether military or civilian.

Lenora Turner: And another term you can relate that right to in the business realm is proactive customer service. Again, who doesn't want that? Someone who's thinking ahead, "What's the need going to be?" You're anticipating ahead of time and trying to meet it before it's a crisis. I remember a story from another one of our veterans that was talking about a crisis they were dealing with, not in a military sense, but crisis at the office, meaning a customer was upset. There's something they needed. Something was going wrong with a particular shipment, and how the stress level of that individual versus the stress level of some of the other team members was quite different, because of the things that, in this case, he had been through.

It just didn't hit him the same. He'd been through crises that are a whole different level. And so, yes, this mattered. Yes, they were going to take care of it very quickly and be as proactive and, in some ways, reactive because it was already a problem, but the stress level was different. He wasn't near as stressed, because it just didn't match what he had been through in some of the military situations. So that capacity to manage stress, to work under stress is another thing you're going to gain.

Chris Parker: And I guess that's what I meant more about when I'm talking about higher stakes here, is it's a stressful environment that needs flawless execution, and that can be applied in the civilian sense with, again, an app that finds a sweater for my dog.

Lenora Turner: Which we like those apps. Yeah.

Chris Parker: Yeah. But stressful things can happen there, and to have someone who's handled something far more stressful and can keep a cool head in those situations. I mean, yeah, you're right. Who wouldn't want that? And then I think when I hear proactive customer service, I feel like that just adds to a better, greater customer experience as well.

Ted Lucas: I think, Chris, every night, I'm able to go home, sleep in my own bed, get a warm meal, and no one's shooting at me. So I think that's great. Service members must work calmly and carefully in high-stress, fast-paced situations.

Chris Parker: Right. Right.

Ted Lucas: We often develop healthy coping mechanisms, such as meditating, setting small goals, and exercising. The stressors of most corporate jobs, such as tight deadlines, quick decisions, and difficult colleagues, are less likely to feel overwhelming to us veterans.

Chris Parker: That's a Tuesday morning.

Ted Lucas: "Okay. It's another Monday."

Chris Parker: Yeah.

Lenora Turner: And Ted, your job was largely what? I know it. I'm asking for the podcast.

Chris Parker: Yeah, I want to hear this.

Ted Lucas: Lenora, what I did for the United States Navy and other services when we did joint operations was leading a team of very high-performing individuals in the Bomb Squad. So people would call us in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places throughout the world to render safe an improvised explosive device that maybe the terrorists have placed there, or a bomb that was dropped that didn't go off. So that's what I did in the Navy, and I was very fortunate enough to lead our national treasure of young people in this military profession.

Chris Parker: Holy cow.

Lenora Turner: EOD specialist.

Chris Parker: Yeah. That's incredible.

Lenora Turner: Yeah.

Chris Parker: That's really cool. Lenora, you touched on it very lightly. I wanted to hear something a little bit more specific, but I was wondering if I could hear some examples of veterans making significant contributions to the supply chain industry or just stories of success that you've heard that you could share right now.

Lenora Turner: Well, I know that one of our own employees, although he's actually moved on from this particular role, but he ran our Project Cargo. We were moving very large, very awkward, very unique things. It may be moving a factory. It may be moving a very huge piece of equipment, very expensive, very critical to the company who's having it moved. We've worked in projects to help set up the roof of a stadium with the Olympics.

And so, when you have projects like that that are incredibly critical and you have one of our veterans leading it, he knew, and the team learned and knew how to connect to the right people in the right places, have an extreme, detailed process to make sure things happen exactly how they're supposed to happen, and very expensive equipment is taken care of to perfection. So that's one example of our own team.

One of the individuals I met at one of the job fairs we went to at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) in the Northwest, sometimes you're talking to somebody and you're like, "Again, you did what? I just feel privileged talking to you right now." Just the depth of experience, the depth of knowledge in so many different countries, experiences, types of jobs. I thought, "You can't make it up. How do you get that?" In some cases, it would be difficult to gain the broad set of skills that hasn't done some of these different roles in so many places, with so many demands on them would gather and have now as part of their tool belt.

And again, I've just continued to grow in understanding. Again, I'm not a veteran. Now, my father was a veteran. My father served in the Korean War. He was a crew chief for Sabrejets in, I think it was the 335th Air Force, and he served on MiG Alley during the Korean War. But he didn't talk a lot about it. So I have learned so much of what I really know about the value and the, really, skill set that the veterans bring into the workforce outside of the military from our own veterans.

Chris Parker: Right.

Ted Lucas: Chris, if you look at our company, you can see veterans throughout the company in different positions. We just had a veteran who was selected. He was a district manager and he was just selected to be a regional vice president for our Southwest region of the Americas.

Lenora Turner: Bryan Bass.

Ted Lucas: You have different veterans who have started at the agent level who are now product managers. So if you just took a look at Expeditors across the board, you could probably see a veteran at every level within the company. And a company like Expeditors, who has a strong, well-defined company culture and the teams have set values and behaviors and goals, the best way to strengthen your company culture is to hire people who values goals and actions are aligned, and that's a veteran.

For example, if you have a company that values teamwork, leadership, loyalty, problem-solving, respect, and strategic thinking, bringing veterans on board will be a force multiplier for your company's missions and values.

Chris Parker: So then that speaks to the benefits of bringing veterans into the workplace.

Ted Lucas: That's one. That's one of the benefits.

Chris Parker: That's one of them. That speaks to one of the benefits of bringing veterans into your workplace. How can companies make a workplace more inclusive and welcoming for veterans?

Ted Lucas: If you've got that strong company culture, you have to talk to them about your company culture. By talking about it, that veteran can understand that, "Hey, that company really values us." And there's been a couple of examples where I have been to hiring fairs to try to bring this talented workforce on board Expeditors. In talking with them, they understand our program is all about the veterans, because everything my team does... And I'm very lucky to have some great people on my team for the Opportunity Knocks Veterans Program. Everything we do is about those three program tenets that we talked about, hiring veterans, supporting them through their transition, and recognizing service.

If you want to start up a program at your company, figure out what your program tenets are, and they can be very similar to the ones we have, and get the team to do everything to support those program tenets, and only that, and I think you'll be able to bring veterans on board.

Chris Parker: Yeah. It sounds like it needs to be very, very intentional. It's not just a name for a program just to bring in a new talent pool. You have to be really, really structured and really think about it.

Lenora Turner: And I can add a few thoughts too, is make sure you, on purpose, proactively put your opportunities in front of veteran and veteran spouse audiences. And like Ted said, if you've got your company culture, it should be on your website. It's on ours, but you should make sure you're talking about it, because that veteran wants to be on a team. That veteran is looking for also purpose. They have their very purposeful work when they're in their uniform. Are you good at sharing the purpose of what your business does?

Make sure you're communicating those things, helping people be connected to each other. Be curious. Be grateful. Ask questions. Don't make the assumption that IT means one thing or veteran means one thing. Ask some questions. I think everyone wants to have common ground, "I belong here. I fit here as well." Conversations help that. So you should, on purpose, be talking about the things you know are attractive to actually any talent, but certainly for your veteran talent that you know is looking for team and purpose, why their work matters, and has opportunity, hopefully, for growth within your company.

Chris Parker: Yeah. Know how to define the culture and then have conversations. Ted?

Ted Lucas: I think many of the leading companies in this space that hire and grow veteran talent point to the necessity of having support from the executive level. Right? We got great support from our executive level. A veteran hiring initiative will require resources, commitment, time, and energy to be successful. And with buy-in from the highest levels in your organization, you can conduct research, create a unique program based on your company's culture, form alliances, like Lenora talked about with Hiring Our Heroes or the USO or everything, and build visibility as a veteran-friendly company.

If you got that support, you're going to be successful. But without it, many of the initiatives may fall short of meeting objectives or phase out because interest and enthusiasm just become hard to sustain. So you need that buy-in from the top, and we're fortunate enough to have that both from our leadership and the great leadership we have from Lenora in this program.

Chris Parker: And not to say that there's one set way to create a program here, but when you do hire those veterans on, is there any kind of support that you think that they would appreciate the most? And what does that support look like?

Ted Lucas: When you hire a veteran, if you can connect them with a veteran mentor in your company, that's great. But if there's not a veteran in your company that can be a mentor, pick someone who knows the culture and can relate to people who served. I mean, for example, I think Lenora and I have a great working relationship because her dad served, and she knows that service to our nation is a calling. She can relate to me in a way that I don't think other leaders can. She can relate to me. She gives clear communications to me so I can go out and do my job, which is hire veterans, help them through their transition, and recognize service to the nation.

Lenora Turner: And I tend to be a big believer that you don't have to have mass amounts of structure if you have a good culture, if you have some ways of doing things. Again, it's about relationship. It's about conversations. It's about the simple things. Conversations, boy, some people could think, "Yeah. I'm not going to be talking a lot." So it's not like it has to be a bunch of words, but are you connecting? Are you actually curious?

It's honestly a bunch of simple, basic things. We have very clear tenets, so you can execute that how you want to in your local office. Part of what our process has been is helping educate our own members already of what the fit is for that veteran talent. Some already knew that. Other times, Ted has really been a great leader in helping educate, "Hey, let's talk about this. Why are veterans a good fit?"

We've done this internally. It's really wonderful to have this opportunity to do this external podcast, but we've been working on this inside. So it's not just check the box, go to a veteran recruiting program. The people that are going there understand, "I want to recruit from this base because I have some understanding of why this is smart."

Ted Lucas: The military is a values-driven culture. Right? So servicemen and women are instilled with the values of loyalty, service, duty, and honor, just to name a few. Right? So when they transition, they are seeking a commitment to values in their employers. Right? When I talk to veterans, they often tell me that they look to work for a company that has a set of values that they can ascribe to.

So the topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to be veteran-friendly. Make it clear what your values are, how you live and act upon those values, and how the veteran's job will promote and support those values. And if you do all that, even if the work is less glamorous, that can be very attractive to veterans, because they understand there's a greater purpose.

Chris Parker: If you were to be, I mean, you are, a veteran with the opportunity to speak to other veterans out there who are interested in a career either in ours, in freight forwarding, global logistics, international trade, what advice would you give them?

Ted Lucas: That's a great question, and I think one of the things I would tell them is that, "Hey, you have a skill set that is transferable across all contexts and tasks." I mean, because the first casualty of any war is the plan. Right? So in the military, troops learn to make do with what they have and whatever they have. Right? So military members are trained to deal with situations when the plan goes awry, and in response, military personnel will reorientate themselves and continue on with the mission based on the evolving situation.

I think that is one of the biggest skills that a veteran brings to the table. And if they can communicate that in an interview, they will be very successful on finding employment opportunities. I mean, look at me, the guy who took apart bombs. Right? There's not a large calling for that in the civilian world.

Lenora Turner: And we're glad.

Ted Lucas: But I know how to plan and I know how to execute. So I think that's one of the reasons why Expeditors hired me. I was able to communicate that to the hiring manager and found a position at Expeditors.

Lenora Turner: When I've been at the hiring fairs and as I've gotten to know more veterans and ask more questions myself and look for understanding in their transition, obviously they're leaving the work that they have done, the team that they've already worked with. They may be comfortable there. They've gone through a lot of changes, but every time we go through a different change, you shift to a new comfort zone eventually. It's that same process, although it may be a bigger leap, because you're going completely away from the military, and it can seem more scary than you want to admit.

Chris Parker: Sure.

Lenora Turner: Know that you're going to be uncomfortable. It's okay to say, "I don't know how to do this. Other things were different." But also know that you do belong. You do belong in that company. You belong with that new team. Sometimes people have the mentality too much of, "They don't understand me because they weren't where I was. They didn't have the same experiences." There's some real truth there, but there's so much common ground.

So you want to help the veteran go, "Hey, look for the common ground. Look for that teamwork. Look for that team that you want to fit with. Look for the mission. Maybe you're going to be better than some companies at helping point out their own mission, their value to the communities that they're bringing. You can help be a voice to strengthen that culture within that company." All those different things that Ted already mentioned.

So I want the veteran to know you've got more than you think to offer to that business. And the qualities that you have, I can tell you, every company wants them. They want that teamwork. They want that leadership. They want the adaptability. They want the proactive customer service. You're loaded with those things. You have to grab ahold of that, and then you have to be willing to read enough job descriptions to kind of relate to, "How does my words, in the way I did it in my world, fit to what this business world is talking about?"

That's a process. It can be stressful, but it's worth it, because you're going to find that your skills match way more things than you think, but it's going to take a little bit of time. And again, a new comfort zone is, at first, very uncomfortable.

Chris Parker: Sure.

Ted Lucas: Yeah.

Lenora Turner: And welcome the human. So reach out to each other, reach out to your old buddies, to new buddies, and know that you do belong.

Ted Lucas: I think the world is a chaotic place, and the business world is a chaotic place.

Chris Parker: It is?

Ted Lucas: Yeah. Many veterans pride themselves on the ability to thrive in chaos, and there's research that backs that up. Right?

Chris Parker: Right. Right.

Ted Lucas: So military experience positively correlates to the ability to evaluate an evolving situation or environment and act effectively in the face of uncertainty. Businesses are constantly changing and evolving. So they should be looking for future employees who can work efficiently and effectively in these kinds of environments. And guess what? Us veterans, we can do that, because we pride ourselves on thriving in chaos.

Chris Parker: Yeah.

Lenora Turner: Yeah.

Chris Parker: My last question here about support for veterans in the workplace revolves around something that you touched on, Ted, where you were saying, "Find mentors within your organization who are veterans and that can support these new hires." Is there any other support that you could see that veterans can provide to others who are transitioning to civilian life or into new careers?

Ted Lucas: Yeah. I think other veterans can be honest to people transitioning out of the military. You may or may not get that high-paying job that people told you every company's going to give you when you get out of the service. Right? So you have to be truthful and honest to people who are currently walking through that transition process. I always tell veterans, "If you find a company that you like, find an entry-level position. Do the best you can in there. A company will recognize that and quickly promote you up the chain of command."

Chris Parker: Right. The right company will. Yeah.

Ted Lucas: Yeah. I think we talked about it a little bit earlier, that a veteran has a family unit. They've served well. They've served together. So I think if a company has a veterans' affinity group or a veterans' organization, like we have, and they reach out to family members and talk to family members, you bring that veteran on board a lot faster.

Chris Parker: Yeah.

Ted Lucas: I mean, over the past few months, we've hired some military spouses because they've heard about us at job fairs after talking with their husbands. Right? So it's just been a great fit. If you have a strong program like an Opportunity Knocks Veterans Program at your company, you have veterans who are willing to talk to people transitioning out of the service and saying, "Hey, there are going to be some tough times, but you will be successful because you have X, Y, and Z skills."

Your leadership of that company is supportive of a veteran, because like, "Hey, there are some days where I have to go to my VA appointment and it may take a long time to get a VA appointment, and that company knows that and they support that and they're behind me 110%," like our company is. "I can go do that and come back to work. No questions are asked." So I think strong leadership, a good set of program tenets, a good company culture will make your veterans program successful.

Lenora Turner: And there are some really good external organizations. I think most veterans are aware of maybe their local TAP program, Transition Assistance Program.

Chris Parker: Right.

Lenora Turner: Definitely get involved with that. Some of that's required, but dive into it. Be willing to ask questions. Don't expect yourself to know how to transition the verbiage of what you did into something else. It takes some time. Really reach out. Reach out. I know it's so easy for us to think, "I'm somehow supposed to know better." I grew up with that word. "You should know better, Lenora." Eventually, I realized I don't know better in a lot of areas. So I've had to learn. And same thing, there's Hiring Our Heroes. Ted mentioned earlier... What was another one you said?

Ted Lucas: Well, Lenora, there's lots of veteran service organizations out there, VSOs. There's the USO. We work on our pillar number two, helping veterans through their transitions. We work with Hiring Our Heroes, which is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for going to hiring fairs and stuff like that. And then there's lots of local ones. For example, near and dear to my heart are two: the EOD Warrior Foundation, which I'm an ambassador for, which we take care of our EOD families; then there's Boulder Crest up there in the Blue Mountains of West Virginia that helps veterans make good decisions based on their situations.

And so, there's just a lot out there, and some of them have a certain purpose. Like here in Houston, Texas, we have the Combined Arms organization that basically brings everything a veteran needs underneath one roof. So I can go talk to someone about finding a job or I can go talk to someone about a mental health program, or I can go talk to someone about how to start an exercise program, or talk to someone about starting a small business. So there's a bunch of them out there and they're all good. Find one and go talking to that organization.

Lenora Turner:
I can tell you that this is true of all humans well beyond veterans. Too many people don't reach out and just ask for help, and they somehow think we're supposed to already know or supposed to do this, and nobody knows we're shaken by it. Everyone is shaken by different things. And so, transitions are a big deal. And so, Ted introduced me to Boulder Crest Foundation. That's for those veterans and first responders that may deal with post-traumatic stress.

I learned recently of Scott Mann and the Generosity of Scars. That's a TEDx. Oh my gosh, watch it. How he learned how the incredible, hurtful things in his past when he struggled with transition has helped as he's been willing to open up and talk about them, how many times it's helping other people with their invisible wounds or with their stresses with transition or things that may have happened, and it goes well beyond the needs veterans have.

Every human would benefit from having this understanding, because we all are dealing with sometimes crazy things in life, sometimes crazy things in the world, and I have learned much from my veteran friends. And these resources are out there, but you have to be willing to say, "Hey, I'm human. I need a buddy as well to walk through with me or talk with me as I go through this."

Ted Lucas: This week is National Buddy Check Week, where they're asking veterans to reach out to 10 or more of their buddies to just check on their well-being and stuff like that.

Chris Parker: I love that.

Ted Lucas: And I'd like to carry it further.

Chris Parker: Yeah. That's cool.

Ted Lucas: I think every person we meet on a daily basis is battling something, and we have to take that on board and treat them with kindness and respect that they deserve. Right? It's very easy to look at someone and say, "Oh my goodness, their shoes aren't polished. Their hair's not combed. Oh, man. They are terrible." That's not the case, right?

Chris Parker: No.

Ted Lucas: They're just fighting a battle that you and I know nothing about. So we have to help them through their battle. Veterans face different battles. Every veteran values their service to the nation differently. And so, some veterans may not look at their time on service as a good thing. I look at it as one of the best things of my life. And if they took old guys, I'd go right back into the service. Right? That's how much I love my time in service, and I love my buddies who I served with.

Chris Parker: Yeah. Yeah.

Ted Lucas: So we just have to make sure we remember to have a successful program, hire veterans, help them through their transitions, and recognize service to the nation. You need leadership buy-in, resources, time, and you need a commitment to it. And if you're doing all that, you're going to have a successful program and you're going to help many veterans through their transition, because what people don't understand is, transitioning from the military to civilian life is a process.

Chris Parker: Right.

Ted Lucas: It takes time. I got to study. What am I going to do? I got to network. All things that might be new to a veteran. So I'm looking for a company that has a strong program that can help me ease the stresses of transition and find employment.

Chris Parker: Awesome. Well, Ted, Lenora, thank you so much for talking through this topic. Veterans Day is rolling around on November 11th, so I hope everyone listening here will think about the men and women who have served our country then. And Ted, thank you for your 30-plus years of service to this country.

Lenora Turner: Absolutely.

Chris Parker: It's really cool, and I always love hearing the stories that you bring around your background and what you do and for this topic too. I hope that this is something that when people listen to, they can start, get those programs rolling, and to understand the veteran experience, the transition experience, and how to provide those opportunities, because there is a lot of value, truly, in our veterans.

Ted Lucas: Thank you very much, Chris, for making this topic and elevating on your list of things to talk about, because I know there's many things you could talk about, but I thank you very much for choosing veterans and what veterans can bring to a workforce as a topic.

Chris Parker: My pleasure. My pleasure.

Lenora Turner: And thank you to every veteran listening. Thank you for your service. We absolutely do value it. Thank you to the companies that are doing the efforts, and we know many more will. We hope this is a piece of that. And thanks again, Chris. Thank you, Expeditors, for supporting this.

Chris Parker: Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you've got questions or want to learn more about today's topic, check out the show notes for more information. And before you go, make sure you're subscribed on whatever podcast app you're using so you won't miss the next episode. To learn more about Expeditors, you can find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and X, or simply visit us at Take care, and I'll see you next time.

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Blog was originally posted on October 31, 2023 7 AM

Topics: Supply Chain, Logistics, Veterans


Written by Expeditors

33 minute read