In honor of Veterans Day, we spoke with Los Angeles Founding Member Adrianne Phillips, a service-disabled Veteran who founded Strategic Alliance for Veteran Integration (SAVI) as a reaction to the immense lack of support for veterans transitioning to civilian life. Adrianne has spent over a decade working in the veterans benefit sector across development, adjudication, training, quality assurance, and division management. She shares her story and reflections below:

On Her Military Experience, and How It Has Shaped Her Leadership Values

I am an Air Force combat vet. I served as a police officer and, since the military, I've dedicated a lot of my career to giving back to my community.

Being a veteran is the most important aspect of my backstory that has been critical in shaping my leadership, my service, and how I operate. Because for me, leadership is the ability to inspire others to take action. In the military, there's no such thing as micromanaging. When you come in, you're trained to do your job and to do it well. You're required to make decisions on a moment's notice in the middle of crisis situations where you have no space to think. Being able to take action on the spot and trust that you're making the right decisions really is at the core of my leadership values. And I experienced that when I joined at 17. It's about having integrity, service before self, knowing how to make on the spot decisions, and taking care of your team.

A lot of people in business are focused on their career and their titles and moving up the ladder — and sometimes they forget to focus on their team and their employees as people themselves. They're individuals with things that impact them too, and particularly now, as everybody is in crisis mode. You really have to understand the emotional impact of crisis on your team, and acknowledge that as a leader, not only do you have to present a certain example that you want your employees to follow, but you also need to check in on them. Make sure you're treating them as people and not just employees. These are values I've translated into the civilian sector and into my businesses.

On the Diverse Skills and Unique Values Veterans Bring to the Workforce

Veterans have very diverse backgrounds, skill sets, experience levels, and education levels — and I think oftentimes that a lot of organizations overlook that. But in all branches of service, there are cooks, administrative personnel, and people who work in retail. So you really have to understand the diversity of the candidates that are coming out of service. And especially individuals who recently transitioned — they're going to have that military mentality. The discipline and the accountability. They're willing to show up, and they understand commitment.

Now more than ever, it is so difficult to find people who are going to commit to your organization. Who are going to seek to align themselves with your company's purpose and contribute to the organization's growth and mission. Looking to military leaders to fulfill these types of roles is crucial because they already have those values instilled in them. You don't have to teach them commitment. You don't have to teach them accountability or discipline. And again, know that there is so much diversity when it comes to their skills and background. Veterans also have access to benefits, training, and education at no cost. So if you want to invest in your employees, veterans are a key community of candidates to consider.

On Why All Kinds of Companies Should Tap Into the Veteran Community for Talent

Veterans are trained to respond to crisis. They're trained to think on their feet and make decisions in a moment's notice. And when you think about the startup community, that's what we're doing every single day. We're being extremely resourceful, and creative, and doing whatever we can just to keep the wheels going. Veterans definitely align with that.

Most organizations might not consider veterans, or are intimidated by the process of hiring them. Maybe they don't know where to look for veterans, or how to approach them. There are so many questions around our community, as we only account for about 1% of the population. Organizations need education to learn more about the veteran community, and understand that there are so many viable candidates within it — for startups, non-profits, federal agencies, large corporations, and small companies alike. No company should limit how they consider veterans, because they can really fit into any culture and industry at any company size.

If you would like to consider veteran candidates in your hiring process: Consider partnering with SAVI or  DoD SkillBridge, a program offered through the Department of Defense that allows current active-duty military personnel to engage in a third party apprenticeship for up to 180 days prior to separating from service — while still being paid by the military. To learn more, email [email protected].