1 of 2
Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha.
Hoover resident and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Damon Holditch walks through the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. Holditch helps veterans transition into the civilian workplace.
2 of 2
Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha.
The word “freedom” transports U.S. Army Lt. Col. Damon Holditch back to Iraq.
“Two things I learned there are that God answers prayers, and leadership matters,” he said.
Upon returning after serving as a captain, he became aware of the difficulties veterans and current service members face in finding employment. As of August 2014, the unemployment rates for veterans 18 years and over is 5.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Holditch’s message for today’s businesses is clear: Hiring a veteran is not only an easy choice, it’s a smart choice.
“These are high-talent people. Many things they do require a higher level of education,” said Holditch, noting the rigorous training the men and women go through.
The Hoover resident currently serves as an infantry captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and is the district sales manager for the industrial supply company Grainger. Additionally, as the national director of personnel for the company’s veterans business relations group, he is responsible for recruiting efforts and building support for Grainger as a top workplace for veterans.
Holditch has traveled to various businesses around Birmingham to speak about the importance of hiring the nation’s heroes. He emphasizes that veterans are trained in leadership, management, teamwork, accountability and responsibility at the highest level. They also have experience with technology and globalization and are able to work efficiently in a hands-on environment.
“They are self-directed and well educated, work well under pressure and are service oriented,” Holditch said. “They truly do make great employees.”
In addition to gaining individuals with a special set of skills, he said businesses can receive tax credits. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.
He also hopes to dissolve the misconceptions that cause employers to hesitate in the hiring process. He notes one common misunderstanding is that they are gone for many days out of their year for service commitments and unable to fulfill their civilian job duties.
“There is this misconception that they are gone all the time,” Holditch said. “But it’s really only a few days out of the year.”
In July, the Hoover Chamber of Commerce presented the Freedom Award to Holditch. The award recognizes some of Hoover’s most outstanding public servants. Holditch and his wife, Leslie, who is a Hoover City Schools special education teacher, have four children. He credits his other half for helping his family stay strong while he was serving overseas.
“She’s the real hero in all of this,” he said.
Holditch speaks highly of the city he calls home and hopes he can create awareness of the importance of transitioning veterans into the civilian workforce.
“I’m truly blessed to be in Hoover. I couldn’t imagine raising my children anywhere else,” Holditch said. “I would love for the community with the oldest Veterans Day celebration and parade to also be the home of great jobs for our veterans.”
For more on veterans hiring initiatives, visit dol.gov/vets/ahaw/.