One of the things that has frequently amazed me about Muskogee is this town's love for its military veterans.
I'm not a veteran, but I have an immense respect for our armed forces and to see that reflected in the town where I spend so much of my time says astonishingly good things about our collective character.
You can see that respect for our vets in everything from the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center to the up-and-coming veterans' center, The Barracks. You can even spot a veterans decal on a Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service ambulance.
That respect showed in another way last Wednesday when I attended a workshop hosted by the Muskogee Greater Area Chamber of Commerce and Muskogee Area Human Resource Associates, which covered how to hire and keep veteran talent.
It's worth the effort to recruit veteran employees, says Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Veterans Employment Representative Jeff Fryer.
"Even at 21 years old a veteran has been through management school. They've already supervised individuals," Fryer said. "They have high-level management and leadership skills. The military experience is just so much more high level. That's the value of bringing veterans on."
The workshop covered everything from differences in civilian and military culture to how to better tailor your company's job applications to attract vets' attention — such as avoiding a nest of bullet points, or listing applicable military service jobs that might qualify a vet for the position.
But the best part of it, in my opinion, was dismissing some of the stereotypes surrounding veterans, especially in regards to the education of enlisted men and the careers they led.
"Not every veteran is a combat veteran," Fryer said. "Most enlisted men, especially once you reach rank E7 or E8 or E9, have college degrees."
While I have no experience in the military, a large part of my respect and understanding of the armed forces comes from my grandfather, who was one of the smartest men I knew. This wasn't "in spite of" being an enlisted man — he served in the Army as a medic in the Korean war — it was because of it.
His experiences in the military with hierarchy, teamwork and professional training led him to a successful and happy civilian life when he returned home.
I thought Fryer's reminder of that fact was the highlight of the workshop in terms of opening employers' eyes to the benefits of working with veterans to build better businesses.
Muskogee is a great town for veterans to live, and with the sort of education provided by this workshop, hopefully it can be a great place for them to work, too.