Don’t Hire a Veteran with Disabilities Because it Feels Good – Do it Because it’s Smart Business

Nov 28, 2016 11:20 AM ET

Hiring military veterans with disabilities isn’t just feel-good altruism, it leads to strategic advantages. They’re determined, self-aware, goal-oriented, determined, and inclusive. Today’s veterans have led effective teams in ambiguous environments. They have managed large budgets, improvised around uncertainty and accomplished team objectives in lieu of personal ambitions.

Enter Eli Hinson, former Marine, and a wife and mother with two disabilities – dyslexia and deafness in her left ear.

Sit down and talk with Eli and you’ll learn firsthand why hiring veterans makes good business sense. In her more than 16 years at global technology consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, she has:

  • Managed backend cybersecurity for more than 40 internal websites.
  • Taken leadership roles in internal disability awareness programs.
  • Volunteered for local charity events.

Clearly, employing veterans has some obvious benefits. They’re responsible, can execute commands in ambiguous professional environments, bring managerial skills to a team, and operate efficiently.

And yet veterans and the disabled are still stigmatized in the hiring process. Sometimes they are stereotyped for not being able to handle stress due to media portrayals of PTSD. Disabled veterans often get labeled charity cases for marketing purposes instead of being highlighted as valuable employees.

Recruiters and human resource professionals must realize employing veterans and people with disabilities is crucial to enterprise-wide growth. According to the I4CP study, high-performing companies are 37 percent more likely than low-performing companies to hire people with disabilities. That’s a statistic that shows a clear correlation between success and hiring a diverse workforce.

Eli gained a host of technical skills during her time as a Marine field wireman in Okinawa, Japan.

She encoded, decoded, and set up complex cabling systems; identified sources of communications issues; and fixed multiple cables either hundreds of feet overhead on telephone poles or in muddy, bug-infested tunnels.

Eli utilized her technical experiences to land a job at Booz Allen. During her day-to-day, she is given the tools and resources to excel with her disabilities, like a read-back program on her laptop. Since joining the firm, she has earned three consecutive promotions.

In addition to going above and beyond in her day-to-day, she represented Booz Allen in the 2016 D.C. Dancing with the Stars charity event, a competition modeled off the eponymous reality TV show. She raised a remarkable $40k for the nonprofit Operation Renewed Hope (ORH), an organization that fights veteran homelessness. Her reasons for choosing ORH are intensely personal.

“I could have easily ended up homeless,” Eli says. “When I returned from my service, my daughter was barely a month old and my husband had titanium rods in his back preventing him from working. I didn’t have much in the way of savings and if I hadn’t found employment with Booz Allen things could have ended up very differently for me.”

Organizations should understand that diversity and inclusion (D&I) in recruiting practices helps acquire motivated employees, ultimately supporting the bottom line.

As Eli puts it, “These issues need to stop being so taboo. Once we bridge that cultural gap, and get people to actually start talking and familiarizing themselves with the disabled and veteran communities I think organizations will realize what a powerhouse talent pool they’re missing out on.”

Booz Allen Hamilton is a proud supporter of the more than 1.4 million Armed Forces service members, and their families. To read more about the firm’s commitment to veterans, visit: