Posted on 11/9/2016

3 Ways to Attract Veterans to Michigan’s Technology Corridor

Dave Dunckel

Every day, members of today’s U.S. Armed Forces manage, operate and repair thousands of sophisticated communications networks across the globe. Our military men and women control and command high-tech proprietary software and hardware platforms that have the potential of swift and deadly consequences if mismanaged or compromised by an adversary. Not only do our service members accomplish these difficult and sophisticated tasks without hesitation, they often do so in austere environments in treacherous terrain or in the busy, crowded streets of third-world countries.

They can certainly help you accomplish your mission.

Whether it is in the field of advanced manufacturing, robotics, IT, communications, or skilled mechanical trades, veterans entering the workforce today hold a wide range of highly sought-after skills that can bring value and productivity to your plant, office or workplace. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) knows this, and has developed many innovative solutions to attract this quality talent to Michigan. 

1. The Veteran-Friendly Employer (VFE) Certification Program

Our state is home to approximately 640,000 veterans, with a large concentration residing and working in Southeast Michigan. Today’s growing economy and booming manufacturing environment has resulted in many employers actively recruiting this valuable source of talent. To recognize these efforts, the MVAA has established the Veteran-Friendly Employer (VFE) Certification Program, a multi-level designation that informs the veteran job-seeker that select companies are interested in attracting veteran talent to Michigan. 

Employers are initially recognized as “Bronze-Level” VFEs, and earn this accolade by providing the MVAA a snapshot of their organization and by making a commitment to hire veterans, transitioning service members, and members of the National Guard and Reserve. Once an employer earns this recognition, they can work with the MVAA to take advantage of a series of informative and no-cost training sessions that help inform company leadership, HR and recruiting personnel on the value of hiring veterans, understanding military culture, how to create a veteran-friendly workplace, and how to reach out to this diverse and geographically dispersed population. VFE-certified organizations “climb the ladder” from Bronze to Silver, and from Silver to Gold, by incorporating veteran hiring best practices into their operation and establishing programs like Veteran Affinity Groups, veteran recognition programs, and veteran-specific retention programs. 

Well-known companies like GM, Roush Industries, Quicken Loans and Whirlpool Corporation are all recognized as Gold-Level VFEs, and work closely with the MVAA to attract veteran talent to the great state of Michigan. 

For more information on how your organization can become certified as a VFE, visit the MVAA website at and click on the “Employer” icon.

2. The Private Sector Veteran Employment Council

The Private Sector Veteran Employment Council (PSVEC) is another inventive solution established to address veteran workforce development issues in Michigan. Founded by the MVAA and hosted by VFE members, the PSVEC meets on a quarterly basis to trade best practices and discuss challenges and obstacles to attracting veteran talent to their companies. 

Members of the PSVEC consist of select Silver and Gold-level certified employers like the Michigan State Police, Prestige Engineering, Quicken Loans, Consumers Energy and General Motors. Although these well-known employers are often in direct competition with each other to attract the same qualified employees, they put that competitive spirit aside to work together to find rewarding careers for Michigan’s veterans, and to attract transitioning service personnel to our state. 

One of the products of the PSVEC efforts are the quarterly Veteran Hiring Best Practices Workshops which are conducted immediately following the quarterly meeting. These workshops are open to any employer who has an interest in attracting veteran talent, and feature a relevant guest speaker and an interactive panel discussion where businesses can learn successful veteran recruiting strategies. For more information on the PSVEC, or to attend a workshop, email the MVAA Strategy Team at

3. The Why Michigan Talent Attraction Team

The Why Michigan Talent Attraction Team is a truly unique collaboration between state agencies like the MVAA, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MiWorks! and partner public/private sector employers. Attraction Team members pool resources, know-how and talent to travel across the country to interact with transitioning service members as they contemplate entering the civilian workforce. These visits to active component transition sites like Fort Carson, Colo. and Washington D.C. exemplify Michigan’s commitment to attract veteran talent and offer a bright future to those who choose to call our state “home.” During one recent foray, the Talent Attraction Team attended a US Chamber Hiring our Heroes event in Colorado, and employers like Roush Industries and the Michigan Department of Transportation, Prestige Engineering and Consumers Energy worked side-by-side with the MVAA, MEDC and like-minded employers to present veteran job-seekers with the entire Pure Michigan® experience. The team can speak not only about employment opportunities, but also address quality of life issues like continuing education, recreation, cost of living, housing, school systems, and veteran benefits delivery. 

About the Author

Dave Dunckel | Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

Dave Dunckel is the acting strategy director for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. As strategy director, Dunckel is responsible for oversight of state programs addressing veteran employment, education, health care and quality of life. A career military man himself, Dunckel served for over 25 years of combined federal active service in both the US Navy Submarine Service, and the United States Army, where he was a Paratrooper. Dunckel was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Action Badge for service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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