The veteran myth: an experimental investigation of human resource managers' perceptions of United States military veterans




Stone, Christopher Bryan

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As of 2013 the United States had over 21 million military veterans. This group makes up over 9% of the general population over the age of 18. The unemployment rate for veterans, specifically Gulf War-era II (Post 9/11) veterans, continues to be consistently higher than that of the civilian population (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Despite the size of this group and their potential unique benefit to organizations, little theory and research exists to explain this disparity. Results from the sparse research done by private organizations seeking to understand this issue (Harrell & Berglass, 2012; Prudential, 2012) suggest that veterans may be victims of unfair discrimination due to stereotyping and stigmatization. Human resource decision makers may overlook positive characteristics of veterans, giving preference to stigmas unfairly associated with the veteran population. The purpose of this study is to answer the following questions: (1) How do human resource (HR) managers perceive military veterans' suitability for employment? and (2) How do HR managers' perceptions of veterans affect hiring decisions? Results of the study suggest that both positive and negative stereotypes exist regarding veterans and these stereotypes influence perceived job suitability outcomes. Implications of these findings, practical suggestions for improvement, and directions for future research are discussed.


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Discrimination, Human resource managers, Selection, Stereotype, Stigma, Veteran