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How the auto industry can help military veterans transition to civilian life

This Veterans Day we’re taking some time to honor our nation’s heroes who have pursued a career in automotive. We’re learning ways to better serve them as well as some of the unique challenges these women and men face along the way. Today on Inside Automotive, is Jason Wilson, President of the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association and Don Hall, the President and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association.

At just 17 years old, with no direction, and running away from foster care, Don Hall made a decision that changed his life for the better. The Marine Corps had discipline, it was challenging, and it knocked Hall down and locked him up for his attitude. However, the experience built him for the automotive industry.

On the other hand, Jason Willson didn’t know which direction he wanted his life to go, but the military seemed like the best option. He says, “The Marine Corps had the best uniforms” which to him was a plus. As Wilson got set into the 5811 Military Police, he proceeded with a security detail that landed him as the president of a helicopter quadrant. He says “the exposure of the military builds who you are going to be later in life when you need direction at the forefront.”  

Dealerships look for employees who understand how to dig deep and work hard and can learn how to adapt to the unknown that comes with the day’s work. Dealership staff will be tested and pushed in a way normal people may not know how to handle. Veterans understand how to take direction, and be a part of a team, and a culture. Veterans would be the best type of employees because they’re used to doing things that aren’t popular but need to get done.

More: 4 strategies to recruit and hire veterans at your car dealership

To be successful in the automotive industry, you have to earn it. Every day is different, so understanding the need to earn success comes naturally to veterans. This is because the industry’s primary concern is how one conducts themselves moving forward- it’s the Marine Corps mentality. Anyone who has served, whether short or long-term, is loyal by nature. They will do what is right, and they have the basic foundation the automotive industry is looking for.


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