Thank you for the opportunity.
I'm Brian McKenna and I'm a retired warrant officer. I'll offer my advice, but I'll describe a situation first.
I have a friend who was in a reconnaissance platoon in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He taught on mountain operations courses. I watched him once for over an hour, as he and three others built a rope installation over a river that would eventually be traversed by a company. More than a hundred soldiers would cross that. That responsibility was enormous.
His ability to do math during his inspections and figure out which riggings could handle which number of kilonewtons of force, while he was harnessed and suspended in air, was impressive. This is all on top of his ability and proven capacity to lead a group of eight men and a multi-million dollar fighting vehicle in a war zone. He has administered health care to them, counselled them on shortcomings and supported warriors in their family struggles. He has led them in every aspect of their 24-hour lives in combat, for six months straight. He has a high school education.
Every department of this government that deals with stress, risk assessment and personnel management should ideally be fighting over who gets him. We spoke last week. He's still looking for work. What are we going to do about it?
I think one of the issues for transition, and in this regard, possibly transitioning to a job in other federal departments, is often that the policy seems to create a two-team presentation. There's the civil service and there's the Canadian Forces. Whether true or not, it can appear that a transition from fisheries to CBSA, or for someone working at the Canada Revenue Agency who decides to join, and is hired by, the Mounties, is done one way, with benefits and time served counted one for one.
Yet for someone transitioning from the military to another department of the federal civil service, there are formulas, considerations and decisions to be rendered. One of the things that would ease transition would be to ease peace of mind on transfer values. If working at Foreign Affairs for eight years means eight years of civil service time if you get taken on by Health Canada, service in the military for a continuous eight years should require no more calculations than that. Yet there are calculations and formulas, and that creates doubt and hesitation.
Next, I'd like to speak about equivalency, or in this regard, the objective versus the subjective. A natural place for hiring veterans, for example, should be Veterans Affairs. When veterans look at hiring opportunities, often their biggest hurdle is education. Certainly, we have folks in the military with multiple diplomas and degrees, but we also have folks who have managed some of the toughest and most challenging situations in life and may have actually taken more courses in the military than most civilian programs. On paper, though, they have a high school diploma.
Job descriptions generally say that you need a degree, with some mention that military experience may be considered equivalent. However, coming from the government, soldiers know that the objective is easier to score than the subjective. Who decides if a 20-year warrant officer in the infantry has the experience necessary to meet an unknown person's subjective standard of what “may be equivalent”?
I suggest to you that for releasing members of the Canadian Forces, particularly the injured, part of the release six months out should be an assessment and a real answer to that question. Exactly what is it that I have? Exactly what does someone reading my application believe I have? Where do I score on the “may be equivalent” chart? Perhaps this solution exists.
There's a post-secondary institute in B.C., BCIT, which has a program working with the Legion to assess a soldier's current skills and see what credit they can write off for their business program. That soldier is then advised of how many more credits are needed. This idea would be a great start, but embedded in the military chain of command, through the chief of military personnel.
I think our goal should be that the retiring soldier and the hiring staff of the department know exactly what it is this soldier's experience and training are worth before the soldier applies.
I'll make one more point before I end. It's on terminology.
As a soldier, I hated it when a concept would stay the same, but the next year it was called something different because someone had a great idea about terminology. If you ask an infantryman and an engineer and a chemical weapons detection specialist to clear a building, you'll get different action on the word “clear”. Lexicon matters, especially in the world of human resources vetting and algorithms, some of which is done by machines.
Perhaps military courses such as the advanced leadership qualification should be called project management, because that's one of the things it is. The military prefers the term “leadership” over “management”, because that's what commanders do; they lead. However, “management” is the term the real world uses when it describes a capacity to supervise, teach and administer subordinates.
I also think we need an honest review of education requirements and whether they match the job description or prohibit application from veterans who've served since they were 18. Does every job you are advertising really need that education qualification that is specified, or is there a chance it needs updating?
For example, again at Veterans Affairs, the job of a veterans case manager requires a degree in the study and assessment of human behaviour, whereas their biggest role is understanding military medical information and helping that veteran access benefits from the federal government. A qualification as a military medic or a military resource management specialist ought to be the most highly sought after qualification for that job. Those that have worked in the joint personnel support unit, for example, have worked with these exact clients, these exact veterans and their issues in uniform. Why is a social work degree considered better than that qualification?
There are around 100 different jobs in the military. The human resource specialists in the other federal departments should be ordered to look at each of those job tasks to see if it is the mirror image of a job in their own department. If so, an exemption for those personnel should be granted.
Currently, there seems no shortage of places that a colonel or an admiral can get hired. Everyone seems to grasp what they do. We need to develop realistic goals to have the same opportunities for healthy master seaman who have led boarding party teams and wounded sergeants who have cared for and led soldiers as they build rope bridges and breach wire obstacles. We need the human resources departments to understand why they want that veteran, and we want that veteran to retire from the forces knowing exactly what it is the rest of the federal government thinks they are qualified for.
Thank you for your time.